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Learn about the six kingdoms that make up life on earth, and the different ways that they create energy to live. See how productively you’ve used your energy by taking a quiz.

What are the Six Kingdoms?

All life on the planet Earth can be separated into six so-called kingdoms. If something on earth is alive, it’s part of one of these kingdoms. These aren’t literal monarchies, with a king or queen. They’re more like parts of the wider plant and animal kingdom of Earth.

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The six kingdoms are archaebacteria, eubacteria, protista, fungi, plantae, and animalia.Archaebacteria are a group of microscopic organisms first discovered in the 1970s. Often called extremophiles, they are found in extremely hot, alkaline, or acidic places, where we thought life couldn’t exist. Examples include methanogens, and thermophiles.Eubacteria are lifeforms that are made up of a single cell with a rigid cell wall. What most people simply call bacteria are part of the kingdom eubacteria.

You’ll find them all over the place. They even live inside your gut, helping you digest food.Protista are another organism made up of a single cell, or colony of similar cells. These kinds of organisms are found in water, and include most kinds of parasite, but also algae, and plankton. So they’re basically fish food.

Protista can sometimes seem to act quite like animals, moving independently and hunting for food.Fungi are organisms like yeasts and molds that can be single or multi-celled. Larger forms of fungi produce extended forms, like mushrooms, and generally make use of rotting or dissolved matter. It might not sound very appetizing, but we can thank fungi for bread, beer, and most dairy products.Plantae are large, multi-cell, and multi-tissue organisms that have a fixed location and usually grow out of the ground. They include trees, shrubs, flowers, and grasses, but also lots of the foods we eat.Animalia are large, multi-cell, multi-tissue organisms that are able to move spontaneously and independently, either for periods of their life or throughout their life.

They include insects, mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. This is the kingdom in which we find ourselves: humans.

Modes of Nutrition

One thing that separates the six kingdoms that we haven’t talked about so far is the way they produce or harness energy; their mode of nutrition.

Lifeforms on earth can absorb energy from the light of the sun, by eating plants and animals, or by absorbing rotten or dead matter. Lifeforms that can create their own energy from inorganic materials are called autotrophs, and those that get their energy from other organisms are called heterotrophs. Let’s go through each of the kingdoms again, and talk about the ways that they find nutrition.Archaebacteria‘s modes of nutrition are probably the strangest, since they live in such strange places. The chemicals they are exposed to are quite different from other parts of the world, but they find ways to create energy from them. These involve direct absorption, chemosynthesis (creating energy from chemicals through chemical reactions), and other unusual methods like using small amounts of sunlight to create proton gradients.Eubacteria can have a variety of methods.

They can absorb nutrition directly, get it from the sun through photosynthesis, or use chemical reactions (chemosynthesis).Protista also use absorption and photosynthesis, but in some cases can use ingestion.Fungi get energy only by absorption.

To be exact, the absorption of dead and rotting plant and animal matter.Plantae get their nutrition entirely from photosynthesis, absorbing energy from the sun’s light. However, there are some carnivorous plants that also use absorption.Last of all, animalia get their nutrition entirely from ingestion, putting food into a digestive tract and absorbing the nutrients over time.So that’s it. That’s how lifeforms within the six kingdoms get their nutrition in order to survive.

Organisms that use photosynthesis or chemosynthesis are considered autotrophs, while those that utilize absorption or ingestion are heterotrophs.

Lesson Summary

Life on earth is separated into six kingdoms. Each of these kingdoms has many defining features, but one thing that separates some of them is the way that they supply their energy, or their modes of nutrition. Archaebacteria are microscopic organisms found in extreme places on earth. Because they’re in such strange places, their nutrition is varied and complex, but often includes direct absorption, chemosynthesis, and unusual uses of the sun’s light.

Eubacteria include most of what we would just call bacteria, and also have varied ways of getting nutrition, including absorption, photosynthesis, and chemosynthesis.Protista are made up of either single cells or colonies of similar cells, and form parasites, algae, and plankton. They get their nutrition mostly from absorption, photosynthesis, and ingestion. Fungi are things like mushrooms, and smaller lifeforms of the same type.

Fungi are defined by their mode of nutrition – they get their energy from absorbing dead and rotting plant and animal material. Plantae are plants like trees, shrubs, and grasses, and almost always get their nutrition from photosynthesis (some carnivorous plants also use absorption). Animalia are animals like us, and get the nutrition from ingestion, by putting food through a digestive tract.

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