A staining method used to differentiate bacteria. The bacterial sample is smeared on a microscope slide, stained with a violet dye, treated with acetone-alcohol (a decolourizer), and finally counterstained with a red dye. Gram-positive bacteria retain the first dye, appearing blue-black under the microscope; such bacteria have a thick layer of peptidoglycan in their cell walls. In Gram-negative bacteria, the acetone-alcohol washes out the violet dye and the counterstain is taken up, the cells appearing red. The cell walls of these bacteria have an outer layer of lipoprotein overlying a thin layer of peptidoglycan. The stain is named after the Danish bacteriologist H. C. J. Gram (1853–1938), who first described the technique (since modified) in 1884.
Subjects: Biological Sciences — Medicine and Health.