1.2 describe the common features shared by organisms within the following main groups: plants, animals, fungi, bacteria, protoctists and viruses, and for each group describe examples and their features as follows (details of life cycle and economic importance are not required)

Plants –

  • Structure – Multicellular organisms
  • Features – Contain chloroplasts, carry out photosynthesis, have cellulose walls and store carbohydrates in the form of glucose and starch
  • Examples – Flowering plants such as ‘Herbaceous legumes’, peas and beans

Animals –

  • Structure – Multicellular organisms
  • Features – No chloroplasts or cell walls, can carry out sophisticated nervous coordination and stores carbohydrates as glycogen.
  • Examples – Mammals, humans and insects (eg. houseflies)

Fungi –

  • Structure – Some can be unicellular, however all have thread-like mycelium structures called hyphae
  • Features – Contains many nuclei, cell walls are made of chitin, are fed by extracellular secretion of digestive enzymes (saprotrophic nutrition) and also store carbohydrates as glycogen.
  • Examples – yeast (unicellular) and mucor (the typical fungal hyphae structure)

Bacteria –

  • Structure – Microscopic single celled organisms
  • Features – Cell wall, cell membrane, plasmids. No nucleus however contains circular chromosomes of DNA. Some carry  out photosynthesis and most feed off dead or other living organisms
  • Examples – lactobacillus (bacterium used in yoghurt making) and pneumococcus

Protoctists –

  • Structure – Microscopic, single celled organisms
  • Features – Some are like animal cells but some do have chloroplasts, like plants
  • Examples – Amoeba, cholera and plasmodium

Viruses –

  • Structure – Smaller than bacteria
  • Features – Parasitic; can only reproduce within other living cells. Can infect any type of living organism because of it’s wide variety of shape and size. It has a protein coat, and contains nucleic acid of either RNA or DNA
  • Examples – HIV, influenza virus (which causes the ‘flu’) and the ‘tobacco mosaic virus’
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