The Five Kingdoms Classification System

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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


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


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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 5 Kingdoms

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

  • Fish
  • Amphibians
  • Reptiles
  • Birds
  • Mammals


Kingdom Number of Cells Type of Cells How they gain their energy? Do they move? Examples
Prokaryotae Unicellular Prokaryotic Some Heterotrophic, Some Autotrophic Some Bacteria, Cyanobacteria
Protoctista Mainly Unicellular Eukaryotic Some Heterotrophic, Some Autotrophic Some Amoeba
Fungi Multicellular Eukaryotic Heterotrophic Mainly not Mushroom, Mold, Puffball
Plantae Multicellular Eukaryotic Autotrophic No Trees, Flowering Plants
Animalia Multicellular Eukaryotic Heterotrophic Yes Bird, Human, Cow