Characteristics of the Five Kingdoms

An American taxonomist Robert H. Whittaker has proposed five kingdom classification of living organism in 1969. He divided the living organism on the basis of –

  • Prokaryotic and eukaryotic
  • Unicellular and multicellular
  • Mode of nutrition
  • Source of nutrition-autotrophic and heterotrophic
  • Ecological lifestyle like producers, consumers and decomposer. 
  • Phylogenetic relationships.

In the five kingdom classification the sequences of the kingdom are:

1. Monera - different types of bacteria including bacillus, cocci, spirillum etc.

2. Protista - protozoans,

3. Fungi - penicillium, yeast, basidiomycetes etc.

4. Plantae/metaphors – algae, Bryophytes, pteridophyta, gymnosperms, angiosperms.

5. Animaliae/metazoan – nonchordate (Poriferan, cnidaria, platyhelminthes, nematoda, annelida, mollusca, arthropoda, echinodermata) and chordates are fish, amphibians, reptiles, Aves, mammals.

It is thought that Monera has given rise to the protists and protists give rise to the rest three kingdom of multicellular organism called fungi, plantae, Animalia.

Characteristics of Monera:

1. Organisms are prokaryotic as they do not have well defined nucleus and single cell.

2. Cell wall may or may not be present in Monera.

3. Their nutrition may be autotrophic or heterotrophic. e.g. autotrophic are cyanobacteria (they can synthesis their own food), bacteria and mycoplasma.

Characteristics of protista:

1. Protists are unicellular.

2. They are eukaryotes as they have well defined nucleus membrane bound organelles.

3. Some of them have similarities with plant (diatom) and some of them are similar like animals(protozoans, amoeba)

4. They may be autotrophic or heterotrophic.

5. They have locomotory organs like cillia, flagella, and pseudopodia.

Characteristics of Fungi:

1. They are multicellular means made up of more than one cell. 

2. Contain well defined nucleus and membrane bound organelles (eukaryotes).

3. They do not contain any chlorophyll, thus they are heterotrophic in nature.

4. Cell wall is made up of chitin Rhizopus, Agaricus etc.

5. They are mainly depending dead animals and plants for their nutrition.

Characteristics of plantae:

1. Multicellular organism.

2. Eukaryotic in nature.

3. Containing cell wall which is made up of cellulose.

4. Maximum plants are autotrophic in nature. As they contain chlorophyll, they are able to make photosynthesis and prepare their own food.

5. This kingdom can be subdivided into five groups- thalophyta (Spirogyra, blue green algae), bryophyte( Moss), pteridophyta (fern), gymnosperms (pynus, cicus) and angiosperms (mango, peepal).

Characteristics of animaliae

1. Multicellular and most complex body system.

2. Eukaryotic in nature.

3. They   do not have cell wall.

4. They can not make their own food.So, they are heterotroph in nature.

5. Animals are mainly divided into two- invertebrates and vertebrates. Vertebrates contain notochord, nerve chord, trophoblastic, coelomate, gill slits in the pharynx and having closed circulatory system. It is subdivided into Pisces (shark, hilsa), Amphibians (frog, toad), Reptilia (lizard, snakes), Aves (crow, parrot), Mammalia (dog, cow, man).

6. On the others nonchordate does not contain notochord and nerve chord. They can be categorize into – Poriferan (sponges), Cnidaria (Hydra), platyhelminthes (tape worm), nematodes (hook worm), annelid (earth worm), arthropods (houefly, cockroach), mollusca (snail), echinodermata (star fish).


1. What are the division of arthropods?

Crustaceans (crab), Myriapods (millipedes), Insecta (housefly), Arachnid (spider).

2. Is whale a fish or mammal?

Whale is an aquatic mammal. As it gives birth to the young ones and suckles them. They have lungs to breathe.

3. Why do we classify organism?

Organisms vary in shape size etc. It is very difficult to study and examine each and every organism individually. So, classification is useful.

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