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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Reading Gram Stained Smears From Cultures. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Cocci and Rods

Bacteria may be either round (cocci) or rod-shaped (bacilli). Either shape may be gram-positive or gram-negative. A mixture of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria can occur in the same field. Clostridium is shown as an example of gram-positive bacilli (rods) in the top image. Clostridium species may decolorize easily and appear to be gram-negative, as seen with some of the pink staining organisms. The lower image is Enterococcus faecalis, demonstrating gram-positive cocci.