Definition of Gram-positive

Gram-positive: Gram-positive bacteria retain the color of the crystal violet stain in the Gram stain. This is characteristic of bacteria that have a cell wall composed of a thick layer of a particular substance (called peptidologlycan).

The Gram-positive bacteria include staphylococci ("staph"), streptococci ("strep"), pneumococci, and the bacterium responsible for diphtheria (Cornynebacterium diphtheriae) and anthrax (Bacillus anthracis).

The Danish bacteriologist J.M.C. Gram (1853-1938) devised a 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.


Last Editorial Review: 6/14/2012

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