Google Doodle Celebrates 166th Birthday Of Hans Christian Gram

Google Doodle honours Hans Christian Gram for contributions to microbiology

Google Doodle honours Hans Christian Gram for contributions to microbiology

Google Doodle Friday celebrated the contributions of Danish microbiologist Hans Christian Gram, the man who behind the Gram stain - the first step in the preliminary identification of a bacterial organism. Gram is best known for pioneering the method of the Gram stain to identify bacteria.

Born on 14th September, Hans Christian Gram is credited with devising a staining technique to identify and classify different types of bacteria.

He traveled throughout Europe soon after, studying bacteriology and pharmacology. However, the staining process he created played a major role in classifying bacteria. He followed the method of Paul Ehrlich, using aniline-water and gentian violet solution.

Gram-positive bacteria appear purple under a microscope because their cell walls are so thick that the solvent can not penetrate them, while Gram-negative bacteria have thinner cell walls that allow the solvent to wash away the stain. However, Bacteria that turn purple when stained are referred to as "Gram-positive" as their cell walls are too thick for solvents to penetrate.

Gram staining can help tell types of bacteria apart. Cells that were considered to be "Gram-positive" have an abundance of a specific polymer (peptidoglycan) and few lipids (a distinct fat/oil biomolecule found in all living cells), unlike bacteria that are "Gram-negative". The work that gained Gram an worldwide reputation was his development of a method of staining bacteria, to make them more visible under a microscope. Thanks to Gram, pneumococci, which is blamed for causing several diseases, tested Gram-positive.

He published these findings the very same year in a scholarly journal and included a modest dislaimer that his findings are defective and imperfect but he hoped it would turn out to be useful in the hands of future investigators.

Gram showed a keen interest in the clinical education of students throughout his career.

The Google Doodle was illustrated by Mikkel Sommer, a Danish guest artist, who depicted the important work of Gram, who died 4 November 1938.