Skip to Content


Pronunciation: gram-neg'a-tiv

Definition: Refers to the inability of a type of bacterium to resist decolorization with alcohol after being treated with crystal violet. However, following decolorization, these bacteria can be readily counterstained with safranin, imparting a pink or red color to them 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

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.