- Gram-negative bacteria lose the crystal violet stain (and take the color of the red counterstain) in Gram's method of staining. This is characteristic of bacteria that have a cell wall composed of a thin layer of a particular substance (called peptidoglycan). The Gram-negative bacteria include most of the bacteria normally found in the gastrointestinal tract that can be responsible for disease as well as gonococci (venereal disease) and meningococci (bacterial meningitis). The organisms responsible for cholera and bubonic plague are Gram-negative. The Danish bacteriologist J.M.C. Gram (1853-1938) devised this method of staining bacteria using a dye called crystal (gentian) violet.
Gram's method helps distinguish between different types of bacteria. The gram-staining characteristics of bacteria are denoted as positive or negative, depending upon whether the bacteria take up and retain the crystal violet stain or not.
* * *Refers to the inability of a bacterium to resist decolorization with alcohol after being treated with Gram crystal violet. However, following decolorization, these bacteria can be readily counterstained with safranin, imparting a pink or red color to the bacterium when viewed by light microscopy. This reaction is usually an indication that the outer structure of the bacterium consists of a cytoplasmic (inner) membrane surrounded by a relatively thin peptidoglycan layer, which in turn, is surrounded by an outer membrane. See Gram stain.
* * *gram-neg·a·tive 'gram-'neg-ət-iv adj not holding the purple dye when stained by Gram's stain used chiefly of bacteria
* * *gram-neg·a·tive (gram-negґə-tiv) losing the stain or decolorized by alcohol in the Gram method of staining, a primary characteristic of bacteria having a cell wall composed of a thin layer of peptidoglycan covered by an outer membrane of lipoprotein and lipopolysaccharide. Cf. gram-positive.
Medical dictionary. 2011.