Question Video: Recalling Whittaker’s 5 Kingdoms Biology

Robert H. Whittaker classified organisms into 5 kingdoms. What were these 5 kingdoms?


Video Transcript

Robert H. Whittaker classified organisms into five kingdoms. What were these five kingdoms? (A) Eukaryota, Plantae, Animalia, Aves, Reptilia. (B) Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, Animalia. (C) Chordata, Fungi, Plantae, Animalia, Protostomes. (D) Mammalia, Aves, Reptilia, Amphibia, Fish. (E) Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, Mammalia.

To help us answer this question, let’s first understand a little bit about the history of biological classification and how different scientists have classified living organisms.

In the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, developed an early system of classification. He divided life into two large groups: vegetables, which we would now refer to as plants, and animals. Linnaeus called these groups kingdoms. In Linnaeus’s system, a third kingdom called Minerals encompasses all nonliving things.

Robert Whittaker was an American botanist of the 20th century. In contrast to Carl Linnaeus, Whittaker had access to much more technology and biological knowledge. Using microscopes, scientists had discovered tiny unicellular organisms that did not possess a nucleus. We now refer to these organisms as prokaryotes. Whittaker classified these prokaryotes into a kingdom called kingdom Monera.

Linnaeus’s system of classification grouped plants and fungi together within the kingdom vegetable. However, Whittaker knew that the cells of plants contained chloroplasts and were autotrophic, meaning they could produce their own food. On the other hand, the cells of fungi did not contain chloroplasts, and they could not produce their own food. Fungi are heterotrophs that must absorb nutrients from their surroundings. Therefore, Whittaker classified fungi into their own kingdom and separated them from plants.

Microscopes and other advances in biology had also helped discover a range of organisms called protists. These were microscopic organisms that seemed to be neither plant nor animal nor fungi. And so Whittaker classified them into their own kingdom. And finally one Kingdom has remained the same from Linnaeus to Whittaker, kingdom Animalia.

Matching our list of Whittaker’s kingdoms to our answer choices, we can see the correct option is (B). The five kingdoms that Whittaker classified organisms into are kingdom Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.

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