Gram-positive bacteria are classified by the color they turn after a chemical called Gram stain is applied to them. Gram-positive bacteria stain blue when this stain is applied to them. Other bacteria stain red. They are called gram-negative. Gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria stain differently because their cell walls are different. They also cause different types of infections, and different types of antibiotics are effective against them.
All bacteria may be classified as one of three basic shapes: spheres (cocci), rods (bacilli), and spirals or helixes ( spirochetes Bejel, Yaws, and Pinta Bejel, yaws (frambesia), and pinta are infections caused by Treponema, which are spiral-shaped bacteria called spirochetes (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up). These infections are spread... read more ). Gram-positive bacteria may be cocci or bacilli. (See figure How Bacteria Shape Up How Bacteria Shape Up .)
Some Gram-positive bacteria cause disease. Others normally occupy a particular site in the body, such as the skin. These bacteria, called resident flora Resident Flora Healthy people live in harmony with most of the microorganisms that establish themselves on or in (colonize) nonsterile parts of the body, such as the skin, nose, mouth, throat, large intestine... read more , do not usually cause disease.
Gram-positive bacilli cause certain infections, including the following:
Gram-positive cocci cause certain infections, including the following:
Gram-positive bacteria are increasingly becoming resistant to antibiotics. For example, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) Staphylococcus aureus is the most dangerous of all of the many common staphylococcal bacteria. These gram-positive, sphere-shaped (coccal) bacteria (see figure How Bacteria Shape Up)... read more bacteria are resistant to most antibiotics that are related to penicillin. Methicillin is a type of penicillin Penicillins Penicillins are a subclass of antibiotics called beta-lactam antibiotics (antibiotics that have a chemical structure called a beta-lactam ring). Carbapenems, cephalosporins, and monobactams... read more . MRSA strains are commonly involved in infections acquired in health care facilities and can cause infections acquired outside health care facilities (community-acquired infections).
(See also Overview of Bacteria Overview of Bacteria Bacteria are microscopic, single-celled organisms. They are among the earliest known life forms on earth. There are thousands of different kinds of bacteria, and they live in every conceivable... read more .)