Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae: living together in a biofilm

Pathog Dis. 2013 Nov;69(2):114-26. doi: 10.1111/2049-632X.12073. Epub 2013 Sep 10.


Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are both commensals of the human nasopharynx with an ability to migrate to other niches within the human body to cause various diseases of the upper respiratory tract such as pneumonia, otitis media and bronchitis. They have long been detected together in a multispecies biofilm in infected tissue. However, an understanding of their interplay is a recent field of study, and while over recent years, there has been research that has identified many specific elements important in these biofilms, to date, it remains questionable whether the relationship between H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae is competitive or cooperative. Additionally, the factors that govern the nature of the interspecies interaction are still undefined. This review aims to collate the information that has emerged on the cocolonization and co-infection by S. pneumoniae and nontypeable H. influenzae (NTHi) and their formation of a multispecies biofilm.

Keywords: Streptococcus pneumoniae; bacterial pathogenesis; inter-species interactions; multispecies biofilms; nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae; otitis media.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms / growth & development*
  • Carrier State / microbiology*
  • Coinfection / microbiology*
  • Haemophilus influenzae / physiology*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions
  • Humans
  • Microbial Interactions
  • Nasopharynx / microbiology
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / physiology*