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Five Kingdom Classification

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What is Biological Classification?

Do you ever come across the name of an organism or a plant for the first time and keep wondering what exactly it is? Is it an animal or a plant or an insect or something else? We often tend to keep pondering over such thoughts, and never find an answer. To ease this pain of wonderment, Biological Classification provides an answer. It is nothing but a simple classification from which we learn in which biological group an organism belongs.

Segregating living organisms into different hierarchical groups depending upon their similarities in their structure, functions, physiology, etc. is Biological Classification. Aristotle first, classified living organisms on the basis of their habitat (living on water, land, or air). The systematic classification of organisms is needed to study them properly. As evolution is a continuous process with a standard classification system in place it is easier to place the organisms according to their groups and identify their characteristics.

What is the Five Kingdom Classification

The basic two-kingdom classification that divides plants and animals into two groups was not efficient enough to help study other organisms that did not fall in either of the categories. There are organisms, with no similarities with plants or animals. Hence, to classify and study all organisms, a broader system was needed to first classify and put all of them into different groups. 

The Five Kingdom System Differentiates Organisms based on:

  • Cell Structure - it comprises of individual components needed by an organism to carry out various life processes

  • Body Organization - it is how the body of an organism is organized at various levels. For instance, in humans, cells come together to form tissues, tissues come together to form organs and organs organized into organ systems, and so on and so forth.

  • Mode of Nutrition - it is the process through which an organism obtains and consumes its nutrients. It can be autotrophic or heterotrophic. They are further divided into various types. Refer to Vedantu's website to know more about Mode of Nutrition

  • Mode of Reproduction - it is the way through which an organism reproduces. It can be sexual or asexual. It can be through fragmentation, fission, budding regeneration, vegetative propagation, etc. Vedantu can help you in understanding Modes of Reproduction in detail. 

  • Phylogenetic Relationship (Evolutionary development and diversification) - in simple words phylogenetic relationships are the relationships that help in tracing how far are the two organisms related to each other via common ancestry.

Robert H Whittaker introduced the Five Kingdom Classification in 1969 for the study of organisms.

The Five Kingdom System

The Five major groups as per this system are: 

  • Animalia

  • Plantae

  • Fungi

  • Protista

  • Monera

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Kingdom Animalia

Eukaryotic and multicellular organisms with no cell wall or photosynthetic pigments come under this group. Organisms in this group are heterotrophs and feed on external food (plants or animals). Their mode of nutrition is holozoic. So, with such a mode of nutrition, they have to ingest, digest, absorb, and assimilate the food in order to utilize it. Organisms of this group reproduce sexually or asexually. The most distinguishing feature of this group of organisms is the presence of sensory organs and a nervous system.

Examples- Porifera- Sponges, Cnidaria- Jellyfishes, Echinodermata- Starfishes, Arthropoda- insects, Mammals, Birds, Amphibians.

Kingdom Animalia has a further sub-classification: 

  • Vertebrates- Those who have backbones.

  • Invertebrates- Those who do not possess backbones.

Kingdom Plantae

As the name suggests, plants come under the kingdom Plantae. Organisms in this group are Eukaryotes and multicellular with the presence of a cell wall made of cellulose. They also have photosynthetic pigments present so that they can prepare their own food. Thus, they show the autotrophic mode of nutrition mostly. Organisms in this group reproduce sexually or asexually. Plants are further divided into two types: 

  • Flowering plants

  • Non-Flowering plants

Plants with flowers reproduce sexually by pollination and the non-flowering plants reproduce asexually by vegetative propagation.

Examples- Ferns, Mosses, Flowering plants, etc.

Kingdom Fungi

Fungi are Eukaryotes, can be unicellular, multicellular, or filamentous. They have a cell wall made of chitin and polysaccharides. Their mode of nutrition is heterotrophic, which means they cannot make their own food and rely on external sources. If you have noticed, most often, long decomposing food or stale bread develops a furry growth on them, this growing organism is nothing but fungi. Some fungi also survive as parasites and most of them are saprophytes, that is, they survive on a dead or decaying matter. Some fungi are also found to be surviving in symbiotic associations with other organisms, like plants or viruses. Fungi are an important class of organisms for the ecosystem as they facilitate the decaying process. We also see commercial uses of fungi in our day to day lives. Fungi can reproduce sexually or asexually by spore formation.

Examples- Mushrooms, yeasts, etc.

Kingdom Protista

Eukaryotic and single-celled, also called unicellular organisms to come under this group. Protists are both heterotrophs or autotrophs. The pant protists are autotrophs. Example: Algae- Spirogyra, Euglena, etc. Animal and fungus-like protists are heterotrophs. Example- Amoeba, Paramecium. Some Protists also possess flagella or cilia for locomotion. Protists can reproduce asexually by Binary Fission, Nucleus division, budding, etc. Or sexually by gametes formation. 

Protists are further divided into three major groups:

Photosynthetic Protists

The protists which are capable of doing photosynthesis come under this group.

There are three types of photosynthetic protists: 

  • Chrysophytes are diatomic and desmids.

  • Dinoflagellates are mostly marine planktons but are also found in freshwater bodies.

  • Euglenoids have a protein layer called pellicle in place of the cell walls and are found in freshwater bodies.

Saprophytic Protists

Are slime molds. They gain energy from dead and decaying organic matter, mostly twigs, leaves, etc. 

Parasitic Protists

Single-celled eukaryotic protozoans are under this group.

Kingdom Monera

Single-celled prokaryotic organisms with a cell wall are categorized under Kingdom Monera. Their cell wall is made up of a polysaccharide and protein compound instead of cellulose like other organisms. They lack many cell organelles like a cell membrane, Golgi apparatus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, etc. Bacteria is the only organism in this group. They are microscopic and are found in abundance. Life originated and evolved from bacteria. 

Kingdom Monera is further divided into a) Archaebacteria- The most simple and primitive form of bacteria that can survive in extreme conditions. b) Eubacteria- Organisms lacking membrane-bound nucleus are often found in the intestines of the vertebrates and in soil.

Types of bacteria

Depending upon their shape, bacteria are divided into four groups

  • Micrococcus- Are generally round or sphere-shaped. They are commonly found on the skin, soil, meat, etc. These bacteria are harmless and are generally saprophytic in nature. They need oxygen to grow and reproduce.

  • Staphylococcus- Are also sphere-shaped bacteria but in some cases, they are infectious and cause some major health problems like food poisoning, diarrhea, skin infection, etc. They are also found on skin, hair, and other surfaces. They can thrive and grow even in the absence of oxygen.

  • Bacillus- Are rod-shaped bacteria. They produce endospores as a result of which they are very tough. These are also saprophytes, found in soil water, dust.

  • Pseudomonas- They are also rod-shaped bacteria. Pseudomonas can produce exotoxins, which is why they infect individuals who have suppressed immunity or less immunity. They hardly attack healthy individuals. They are found in soil, over the skin, etc.

Advantages of Five Kingdom Classification

  • We can study the characteristics of organisms by only looking at a few members of a particular kingdom. 

  • Classifying organisms makes it simpler and easier to understand their traits.

  • It helps trace origin and study growth patterns, reproduction, structure, and survival needs.

  • The Five Kingdom System also divides unicellular and multicellular organisms into different groups.


We have presented a complete picture about Five Kingdom Classification that can help in preparing for the study and gaining knowledge.

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FAQs on Five Kingdom Classification

1. What are the advantages of Five Kingdom Classification over Two Kingdom Classification?

Two kingdom classification only divided the organisms into plants and animals. It did not give an idea of the character of a particular set of organisms and there are many organisms that do not fall under either of the categories. On the other hand, the five-kingdom classification is diverse and divides single cellular and multicellular organisms into different groups. It eases the study of organisms on the basis of their characteristics.

2. What is the basis of the five-kingdom classification?
Five kingdom classification is done on the basis of 5 factors- cell structure, body organization, mode of nutrition, mode of reproduction, and phylogenetic relationship. It also puts unicellular and multicellular organisms into different groups.

3. What is the kingdom Monera further divided into?

It is further divided into two groups- Archaebacteria and Eubacteria.

4. How many times do I need to read Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples to remember it by heart?

You need to read Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples at least thrice from Vedantu’s website to remember it by heart. When reading for the first time, focus on understanding the topic and subtopics. Do not try to memorize the content. Read it for the second time after a few days, this time also try to recollect the concepts along with reading. Identify your weak points or the points you are finding difficult to remember. The third time, read this a few days before your exams. This time try to recollect as well as memorize the factual data and technical terms.

5. Is Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples relevant for the JIPMER exams?

Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples are not relevant for the Jawaharlal Institute of Postgraduate Medical Education & Research (JIPMER) directly because no direct questions are asked from this topic. Plus this topic is part of the basic biology syllabus. But it is important to know this classification to be in a position to understand many advanced and complex biological phenomena both in zoology and botany. Understand the position of various organisms in the biological hierarchy you need to know this Classification in and out.

6. How is Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples better than two-kingdom classification?

The two-kingdom classification was proposed by Carolus Linnaeus. It had several disadvantages to overcome these, five kingdom classification was proposed by Robert Whittaker. It had the following advantages over the two-kingdom classification:

  • It categorized organisms based on five basic criteria, whereas two kingdom classifications where organisms are classified based on two criteria. It helps to study the characteristics of different organisms of the same kingdom by only looking at a few members of a particular kingdom. 

  • Unicellular prokaryotes and eukaryotes and fungi were not accommodated in the two kingdom classification.

  • Mixotrophs like Euglena too could not find a position in the two-kingdom classification

  • It makes it simpler and easier to understand their traits and also helps to trace origin and study growth patterns, reproduction, structure, and survival needs.

  • These are the advantages of the five-kingdom classification over the two-kingdom classification due to which the former is preferred over the latter.

7. Is the topic of Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples covered in NCERT textbooks?

Yes, the topic of Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples are covered in the Class 11 Biology NCERT. This chapter elaborates upon the topic of the biological classification of organisms. It forms a base for various topics present in the subsequent chapters. Apart from containing 5 kingdoms in great detail, it is also discussed in the later part viruses, viroids, and lichens. Since this chapter forms the base for many other biological concepts it has been included in Chapter 2 itself. Solutions for the NCERT Class 11 Biology Chapter 2 are available on Vedantu’s website.

8. How much time should I dedicate to Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples for ICSE Class 9 Biology?

You can dedicate at least one or two days to Five Kingdom Classification - Kingdoms, Features, and Examples for ICSE Class 9 Biology. This chapter is very important as it will assist you in understanding other chapters in the biology section of Class 9. If you are clear with the concepts mentioned in this chapter then biology in further standards will become a little easier for you. You can find solutions for the ICSE Class 9 biology on Vedantu's website as well as the mobile application in the form of free study materials.

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