Evolutionary Biology

pp 45-78

Five-Kingdom Classification and the Origin and Evolution of Cells

  • Lynn MargulisAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Boston University

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This chapter will argue that modern biologists, in spite of social pressures and historical precedents, need to replace the traditional two-kingdom animal-plant distinction, which has outlived its usefulness, with a multikingdom classification of living organisms. For reasons discussed below, based on recent discoveries from a variety of disciplines, it seems that Whittaker’s five-kingdom system (Whittaker, 1969) is the most logical and consistent yet devised. Whittaker’s system is expanded below the phylum level and slightly modified on the basis of cell evolutionary considerations; suggestions for its adoption by zoologists, botanists, and microbiologists are made.*