The Five Kingdoms Classification System

Join now

If you're ready to pass your A-Level Biology exams, become a member now to get complete access to our entire library of revision materials.

Join over 22,000 learners who have passed their exams thanks to us!

Sign up below to get instant access!

Join now →

Or try a sample...

Not ready to purchase the revision kit yet? No problem. If you want to see what we offer before purchasing, we have a free membership with sample revision materials.

Signup as a free member below and you'll be brought back to this page to try the sample materials before you buy.

Download the samples →

All living things can be grouped into five categories. This is called the five kingdom proposal and was introduced by Robert Whittaker in 1968 as a way to categorise all organisms.

Living organisms are divided into five kingdoms:

  • Prokaryotae
  • Protoctista
  • Fungi
  • Plantae
  • Animalia

Prokaryotae

  • Unicellular and Microscopic.
  • Non-membrane bound (no nuclear membrane, no ER, no mitochondia).
  • Cell wall made of murein.
  • Examples: Bacteria or Cyanobacteria (photosynthesising bacteria).

Protoctista

  • Mainly small eukaryotic organisms.
  • Many live in aquatic environments.
  • This is usually the kingdom where organisms which aren’t animals, plants or fungi go.
  • Examples: Algae, slime moulds and the malaria causing Plasmodium.

Fungi

  • Eukaryotic
  • Multicellular
  • Cell wall made of chitin.
  • The members of this kingdom don’t possess photosynthetic pigments and are therefore heterotrophic.
  • Examples: Mushroom, Mold, Puffball

Plantae

  • Eukaryotic
  • Multicellular
  • Cell wall made of cellulose.
  • Members of the plantae group contain photosynthetic pigment and gain their energy through it and are therefore autotrophic.

Animalia

  • Eukaryotic
  • Multicellular
  • Heterotropic
  • The members of this kingdom can be split into two groups, vertebrates and invertebrates. The diagram below shows the different subsections of the animalia

The vertebrate subsection of the animalia kingdom can be split again into five different sections:

  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Mammals
KingdomNumber of CellsType of CellsHow they gain their energy?Do they move?Examples
ProkaryotaeUnicellularProkaryoticSome Heterotrophic, Some AutotrophicSomeBacteria, Cyanobacteria
ProtoctistaMainly UnicellularEukaryoticSome Heterotrophic, Some AutotrophicSomeAmoeba
FungiMulticellularEukaryoticHeterotrophicMainly notMushroom, Mold, Puffball
PlantaeMulticellularEukaryoticAutotrophicNoTrees, Flowering Plants
AnimaliaMulticellularEukaryoticHeterotrophicYesBird, Human, Cow