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Haemophilus influenzae.jpg
Haemophilus influenzae on a Chocolate agar plate.
Scientific classification

Winslow et al. 1917

H. aegyptius
H. ducreyi
H. felis
H. haemoglobinophilus[1]
H. haemolyticus
H. influenzae
H. parainfluenzae
H. paracuniculus
H. parahaemolyticus
H. paraphrohaemolyticus[1]
H. pittmaniae
H. piscium[1]
H. segnis
H. sputorum[1]

Haemophilus is a genus of Gram-negative, pleomorphic, coccobacilli bacteria belonging to the family Pasteurellaceae.[2][3] While Haemophilus bacteria are typically small coccobacilli, they are categorized as pleomorphic bacteria because of the wide range of shapes they occasionally assume. These organisms inhabit the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract, mouth, vagina, and intestinal tract.[4] The genus includes commensal organisms along with some significant pathogenic species such as H. influenzae—a cause of sepsis and bacterial meningitis in young children—and H. ducreyi, the causative agent of chancroid. All members are either aerobic or facultatively anaerobic. This genus has been found to be part of the salivary microbiome.[5]


Members of the genus Haemophilus will not grow on blood agar plates, as all species require at least one of these blood factors for growth: hemin (X-factor) and/or nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (V-factor). They are unable to synthesize important parts of the cytochrome system needed for respiration, and they obtain these substances from the heme fraction, known as the X factor, of blood hemoglobin. The culture medium must also supply the cofactor nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (from either NAD+ or NADP+), which is known as the V factor. Clinical laboratories use tests for the requirement of the X and V factors to identify the isolates as Haemophilus species.[4]

Chocolate agar is an excellent Haemophilus growth medium, as it allows for increased accessibility to these factors.[6] Alternatively, Haemophilus is sometimes cultured using the "Staph streak" technique: both Staphylococcus and Haemophilus organisms are cultured together on a single blood agar plate. In this case, Haemophilus colonies will frequently grow in small "satellite" colonies around the larger Staphylococcus colonies because the metabolism of Staphylococcus produces the necessary blood factor byproducts required for Haemophilus growth.

Strain[7] Needs X-Factor Needs V-Factor Hemolysis on HB/Rabbit blood
H. aegyptius + +
H. ducreyi +
H. influenzae + +
H. haemolyticus + + +
H. parainfluenzae +
H. parahaemolyticus + +


  1. ^ a b c d LPSN lpsn.dsmz.de
  2. ^ Holt JG, ed. (1994). Bergey's Manual of Determinative Bacteriology (9th ed.). Williams & Wilkins. ISBN 0-683-00603-7.
  3. ^ Kuhnert P; Christensen H, eds. (2008). Pasteurellaceae: Biology, Genomics and Molecular Aspects. Caister Academic Press. ISBN 978-1-904455-34-9. [1].
  4. ^ a b Tortora, Gerard J; Funke, Berdell R; Case, Christine L (2016). Microbiology: An Introduction (12th ed.). Boston: Pearson. p. 301. ISBN 978-0321929150. OCLC 892055958.
  5. ^ Wang, Kun; Lu, Wenxin; Tu, Qichao; Ge, Yichen; He, Jinzhi; Zhou, Yu; Gou, Yaping; Nostrand, Joy D Van; Qin, Yujia; Li, Jiyao; Zhou, Jizhong; Li, Yan; Xiao, Liying; Zhou, Xuedong (10 March 2016). "Preliminary analysis of salivary microbiome and their potential roles in oral lichen planus". Scientific Reports. 6 (1): 22943. doi:10.1038/srep22943. PMC 4785528. PMID 26961389.
  6. ^ Ryan KJ; Ray CG, eds. (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-8385-8529-9.
  7. ^ McPherson RA; Pincus MR, eds. (2011). Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods (22nd ed.). Elsevier. ISBN 978-1437709742.

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