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Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET

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What is Biological Classification?

The process of grouping together various organisms according to their similarities, dissimilarities and phylogenetic descent is known as biological classification.

  • There have been various attempts to classify organisms. The earliest was by Aristotle, who classified plants into herbs shrubs and trees. He classified animals into two groups, based on the presence and absence of red blood. Linnaeus gave the Two Kingdom system of classification and divided living organisms into Plantae and Animalia. 
  • R.H. Whittaker proposed the Five Kingdom system of classification and classified organisms, based on cellular structure, complexity, mode of nutrition, phylogenetic relationship and ecological role performed by them.
  • Whittaker divided organisms into Monera, Protista, Fungi, Plantae and Animalia.

Five Kingdom Classification by WhittakerFive Kingdom Classification by Whittaker

Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET

Question for Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification
Try yourself:Whittaker classified organisms based on their cell structure, mode of nutrition and method of reproduction.
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1. Monera

  • This group includes all kinds of bacteria, having a prokaryotic cell.
  • The cell does not contain a nucleus.

Kingdom Monera: Bacteria Cell StructureKingdom Monera: Bacteria Cell Structure

  • There are different shapes of bacteria present; spherical- cocci, rod-shaped- bacillus, comma- vibrio and spiral- spirilla.
  • They mainly reproduce by fission, spore formation under unfavorable conditions, and also by DNA transfer from one bacterium cell to another.
  • Mycoplasma lack the cell wall and are the smallest cell to survive without oxygen.
  • Archaebacteria- These bacteria are present in the harshest environmental conditions such as salty, marshy and in hot springs. They are known as halophiles, methanogens, thermoacidophiles, respectively.
  • Methanogens are present in the gut of ruminants and produce biogas.
  • Eubacteria- These are true bacteria and have a rigid cell wall and motile organisms have flagella.
    A. Photosynthetic Autotrophs
    They include Cyanobacteria (Blue-green Algae). They have chlorophylls and carotenoidsThey are unicellular, filamentous or colonial and the body is covered by a mucilaginous sheath. Nostoc and Anabaena have heterocystswhere they can fix atmospheric nitrogen.
    B. Chemosynthetic Autotrophs
    They play an important role in recycling nutrients. They get the required energy for ATP generation from the oxidation of various inorganic substances such as ammonia, nitrates and nitrites.
    C. Heterotrophic
    There is a wide variety of heterotrophic bacteria. They act as a decomposer. They are used for various purposes such as nitrogen-fixing, curd and antibiotics production. Many bacteria are pathogen causing various diseases of plants and animals, e.g. citrus canker, tetanus, typhoid, cholera.

2. Protista

Kingdom Protista: EukaryotesKingdom Protista: Eukaryotes

  • The group includes unicellular eukaryotes.
  • A photosynthetic protista is a link between plants and animals.
  • They contain a well-defined nucleus and other membrane-bound cell organelles.
  • They include protozoan, slime moulds, chrysophytes, dinoflagellates and euglenoids.


  • Include diatoms and desmids (golden algae).
  • They are mostly photosynthetic and have indestructible cell wall due to the presence of silica.
  • The cell wall makes two thin overlapping shells, which fit like a soapbox on the outer surface.
  • Diatomaceous earth is the deposit of the cell wall that gets accumulated. It is used for filtration and polishing.


  • They are photosynthetic and marine.
  • They are found in many colours like yellow, green, red, blue, brown, according to the pigment present.
  • Stiff cellulose plates are present on the cell wall.
  • They multiply rapidly and cause red tide.
  • Many dinoflagellates emit blue-green light and are bioluminescent.


  • They are photosynthetic flagellated protist.
  • They are a link between plants and animals. They perform photosynthesis but lack a cell wall.
  • The characteristic feature is the presence of pelliclea protein-rich layer, which makes their body flexible.
  • In the absence of sunlight, they feed on small organisms and behave as a heterotroph.

Slime moulds

  • They are saprophytic protists feeding on organic materials from decaying twigs and leaves.
  • Aggregation of slime moulds is called plasmodium, which they form under favourable conditions.
  • Under unfavourable conditions, fruiting bodies containing spores develop at the tip of plasmodium.
  • These spores can survive for very long under adverse conditions and have true walls.


  • The group contains all the unicellular, eukaryotic, heterotrophs, which are parasites or predators.
  • These are divided into 4 major groups:
    1. Amoeboid- They are characterised by the presence of pseudopodia, which are used for movement and catching of prey, e.g. Amoeba. Marine amoeboids have silica shells. Some of the amoeboids are parasites, e.g. Entamoeba histolytica causes amoebic dysentery.
    2. Flagellated- They are characterised by the presence of flagella. Some of them are parasites causing various diseases, e.g Trypanosoma causes sleeping sickness.
    3. Ciliated- They have thousands of cilia on their body surface. The coordinated movement of cilia helps in steering the water having food into the gullet (body cavity, which opens outside the body surface), e.g. Paramoecium.
    4. Sporozoans- They are characterised by the formation of spores, which is the infectious stage, e.g. Plasmodium.

3. Fungi

  • Fungi are cosmopolitan and found everywhere.
  • They are heterotrophic and get the nutrients by absorption.
  • Their cell wall is made up of chitin or fungal cellulose.
  • Their mode of nutrition is saprophytic, parasitic or symbiotic and the main food reserve is glycogen.
  • Vegetative reproduction is by fragmentation, budding or fission.
  • Asexual reproduction is by spores formation such as conidia, zoospores, sporangiospores.
  • Sexual reproduction is by oospore, ascospore or basidiospore formation in distinct fruiting bodies.
  • In sexual reproduction, plasmogamy (fusion of protoplasm) is followed by karyogamy (fusion of nuclei).
  • In basidiomycetes and ascomycetes, plasmogamy is not immediately followed by karyogamy, resulting in a distinct dikaryon (n+n) cell having 2 nuclei per cell.
  • Fungi are divided into four major classes on the basis of types and mode of spore formation and the structure of mycelium.
    Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET
    Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET

Some Important Fungi

  • Yeast- used in fermentation to make cheese, bread, beer.
  • Penicillium- antibiotics source.
  • Puccinia- causes wheat rust.
  • Ustilago- causes smut disease.
  • Symbionts- Lichens (symbiotic association of fungi with algae), Mycorrhiza (symbiotic association of fungi with roots of green plants).
  • Rhizopus- the bread mould.
  • Albugo- the parasitic fungi on mustard.
  • Neurospora- extensively used in genetic and biochemical work.
  • Truffles and Morels- edible and are considered a delicacy.
  • Agaricus- edible as well as poisonous species.

4. Plantae

  • Mostly autotrophic, chlorophyll-containing, eukaryotic organisms.
  • Characterised by the presence of rigid cell wall made up of cellulose.
  • Some plants are partially heterotrophic such as Insectivorous (Venus flytrap, Bladderwort) and parasites (Cuscuta).
  • Kingdom Plant are characterized into Flowering and Non-Flowering plants. 
  • Kingdom Plantae includes Algae, Bryophytes, Pteridophytes, Spermatophytes, Gymnosperms, Ferns, Liveworts, Mosses and Angiosperms.

Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET

Question for Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification
Try yourself:Plantae consists of _______
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5. Animalia

  • Animals are classified on the basis of common fundamental features like the cellular arrangement, symmetry of the body, presence or absence of the coelom, specific features of the digestive, circulatory and reproductive system
  • All the heterotrophic, eukaryotic and multicellular organisms are included in the Kingdom Animalia.
  • They lack a cell wall.
  • Cellular level of organisation: cells arranged as loose aggregates, present in Porifera (sponges)
  • Tissue level of organisation: cells performing the same function form tissues, present in coelenterates
  • Organ level of organisation: tissues grouped together to form an organ, which performs particular function, e.g. Platyhelminthes
  • Organ system level of organisation: few organs coordinatively perform a certain physiological function, e.g. Annelids, Arthropods, Molluscs, Echinoderms and Chordates

Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET

Acellular organism & lichens, not covered in Whittaker's Five-Kingdom Classification: 


  • Dmitri Ivanowsky gave the name “virus” to the causal organism of tobacco mosaic disease (TMV).
  • Beijerinek called the fluid extracted from diseased plants of tobacco, “Contagium vivum fluidum” and observed it as being infectious to healthy plants.
  • Stanley crystallised TMV (tobacco mosaic virus) for the first time.
  • They are acellular containing nucleic acid core (either DNA or RNA), which is surrounded by a protein coat called the capsid.
  • Viruses use the host machinery to multiply inside the host cell, they exist in a crystalline form outside the host cell.
  • They are obligate parasite and cause various diseases in plants and animals, e.g. common cold, AIDS, polio, mumps, measles, chickenpox, etc. in animals and various mosaic diseases in plants such as tobacco, cucumber, tomato, etc. leaf curling, yellowing of vein, etc.
  • Viruses that infect plants have single-stranded RNA.
  • Bacteriophages, viruses infecting bacteria have double-stranded DNA.


  • They are the smallest infectious agents found. They consist of nucleic acid but lack a protein coat.
  • Diener discovered viroids as a causative agent of potato spindle tuber disease, that was a free RNA.


  • They contain abnormally folded proteins and have a size similar to viruses.
  • They can change the shape of normal proteins by transmitting their misfolded proteins.
  • They cause many neurodegenerative diseases, e.g. bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Cr-Jacob disease in humans.


  • They are a symbiotic, mutually beneficial association of algae (phycobiont) and fungi (mycobiont). The alga is autotrophic and provides food, whereas the fungus provides protection and shelter.
  • Lichens do not grow in polluted areas so they are a good pollution indicator.
The document Important Notes for NEET: Biological Classification - Notes | Study Biology Class 11 - NEET is a part of the NEET Course Biology Class 11.
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