The sample is a representation of the NP microbiome, which contains numerous bacterial species  and may include close relatives of pneumococci such as
S. pseudopneumoniae, Streptococcus mitis and other streptococcal species that also inhabit this niche . The ideal method for non-culture identification in NP swabs should unequivocally detect the pneumococcus with high sensitivity and specificity; it should also be rapid, easy to perform, inexpensive, and deployable on a large scale. In the last decade, several non-culture methods aiming to detect pneumococci in biological samples have been developed including PCR-based strategies targeting specific DNA markers such as rpoA , sodA , tuf , recA , selleck piaA , Spn9802 , ply , a 181-bp pneumococcal-specific fragment , 16S-rDNA , LY2109761 ic50 psaA , and lytA ,  and . For many of these methods specificity problems have been detected , ,  and . For others, there has been insufficient validation against diverse collections of close relatives of pneumococci. In addition, there is an increasing body of more sophisticated
methods that, although promising, may not be easily applied in routine analysis of NP samples , ,  and . While there is currently no gold standard method for non-culture identification of pneumococci from NP swabs ,  and , the lytA real-time PCR assay described by Carvalho et al.  is widely used and appears to be species-specific. However, given the capacity of pneumococci to exchange genes with other oral streptococci  and  a multilocus approach such as used in multilocus sequence typing (MLST), microarray or whole genome-sequencing may prove valuable ,  and .
Culture should remain the gold standard for detection of pneumococci in NP swab samples. Investigators may wish to complement culture detection with a non-culture technique; the method we currently recommend is lytA real-time PCR . A systematic laboratory validation of non-culture methods against large collections of nasopharyngeal and non-classical isolates is needed to guide future recommendations. Studies that are designed to determine the clinical over relevance of pneumococcal culture-negative but DNA-positive samples are needed. The current standard method for serotyping of pneumococcal isolates is the capsular reaction/swelling test (Quellung reaction or Neufeld test) . The traditional method described by Lund , Austrian  and the Statens Serum Institut  using ×100 magnification with oil immersion, is still widely used in Europe and North America. In Australia and Papua New Guinea, the ‘dry’ method using ×40 magnification without oil  has been in use since at least the 1970s (M. Gratten, personal communication).