Gram-negative bacteria are bacteria that do not retain the crystal violet dye in the Gram stain protocol. Gram-negative bacteria will thus appear red or pink following a Gram stain procedure due to the effects of the counterstain (for example safranin).
Gram-negative bacteria have a characteristic cell envelope structure very different from Gram-positive bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria have a cytoplasmic membrane, a thin peptidoglycan layer, and an outer membrane containing lipopolysaccharide. There is a space between the cytoplasmic membrane and the outer membrane called the periplasmic space or periplasm. The periplasmic space contains the loose network of peptidoglycan chains referred to as the peptidoglycan layer.
The Gram negative cell envelope contains an additional outer membrane composed by phospholipids and lipopolysaccharides which face the external environment. The highly charged nature of lipopolysaccharides confer an overall negative charge to the Gram negative cell wall. The chemical structure of the outer membrane lipopolysaccharides of Gram-negative bacteria is often unique to specific bacterial strains and is responsible for many of the antigenic properties of these strains. Many species of Gram-negative bacteria are pathogenic, the pathogenicity often being associated with the lipopolysaccharide layer of the Gram-negative cell envelope.