Differences between Gram positive and Gram Negative bacteria

Difference between Gram positive and Gram Negative bacterial cell wall

The cell wall of Gram negative bacteria is more complex than those of Gram positive bacteria. Gram negative bacteria contain an extra layer of cells called outer membrane or LPS layer which surrounds the thin peptidoglycan layer. LPS layer is absent in Gram positive bacteria.

Some of the main differences between Gram positive bacteria and Gram negative bacteria are:

Staphylococcus in Gram Stain
Gram Stain Reaction of E.Coli


Properties Gram Positive Bacteria Gram Negative Bacteria
Thickness of cellwall Thicker than Gram negative bacteria. around 20 to 25 nm Generally thinner, 11 to 15 nm
Gram reaction Gram positive bacteria stain a deep blue color (violet/purple) in Gram staining technique Gram negative bacteria stain pink to red color in Gram staining technique.
Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) layer Absent Only present in Gram negative bacteria.
Peptidoglycan layer Thick (multilayered) peptidoglycan layer is present in Gram positive bacteria.  It accounts 50% or more of the dry weight of the wall of some Gram positive bacteria. Thin (single-layered). Around 10% weight of the cellwall of Gram negative bacteria.
Teichoic acids Cell wall of gram positive bacteria bacteria contains teichoic acids. Absent
Periplasmic space Periplasmic space is absent in Gram positive bacteria There are two periplasmic space in Gram negative bacteria; one between the murein and inner cell membrane and the other between the murein and outer cell membrane.
Flagellar structure 2 rings in basal body 4 rings in basal body
Toxins produced Primarily exotoxins Primarily endotoxins, LPS layer has a endotoxic property.
Lipid content Low High around 11 to 22% of dry weight of the cell wall (because of lipid rich LPS layer).
Action of Lysozyme Cell wall of Gram positive bacteria is easily destroyed by the action of lysozyme.  After digestion of Peptidoglycan layer,  Gram positive bacteria become protoplast. Gram negative bacteria are refractory to lysozyme, because large protein molecule cannot penetrate the LPS layer. After digestion of Peptidoglycan layer, Gram negative bacteria become spheroplasts.

Spheroplasts: Gram negative bacteria with  intact cytoplasmic membrane of the protoplast plus the outer membrane (LPS layer) of the cell wall , after peptidoglycan layer is destroyed by lysozyme or its synthesis inhibited by antibiotics.

Protoplasts: Cells whose walls have been completely remove and are incapable of normal growth and division.