Negative staining: a forgotten technique in microbiology

Entesar Ahmed Alazazi, Sarfraz Ahmed, Mogana Das Murtey


Electron microscopy techniques have been well established as a rapid method in examining the basic characteristics of microorganisms such as bacteria as well as viruses and subsequently, exploring biological phenomena in greater detail. Though various staining techniques are available for the accurate identification of bacteria and viruses, the negative staining technique is well known for its simplicity. Negative staining is a fast technique that uses only one acidic stain and the absence of heat fixation of the sample. This stain can produce contrast images when an acidic stain does not infiltrate the cell due to repulsion between negative charges of the stain and the bacteria/viruses’ surface. However, this technique is currently fast disappearing from mainstream microscopy techniques. Thus, this short review is intended to highlight the advantages (this wasn’t discussed explicitly) and applications of the negative staining technique among laboratorians, particularly in the current, fast-paced lab environment.

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