Plasmodium falciparum...
the parasite that never gives up


Family Tree

The Family Tree ...and the dreaded reunionsClip ArtClip Art

Plasmodium falciparum is currently found in the kingdom Alveolata. However, it used to be located in Protista. For many years, Protista was a "catch all" kingdom when the five kingdom system was in place. Since then, scientists have realized that many organisms differ more greatly than what was originally thought, as a result the number of kingdoms has grown.


Large Phylogenetic Tree:

Image from "Slide 9" found at:


Small Phylogenetic Tree:










*Note: More species do occur in some branches, however due to lack of space not all could be entered.


Made by Laura Augustine using information from Huestis


Domain ~ Eukarya
Kingdom ~ Alveolata
Phylum ~ Apicomplexa
Class ~ Aconoidasida
Order ~ Haemosporida
Family ~Plasmodida
Genus ~ Plasmodium
Species ~
Plasmodium falciparum

Source: KEGG


Reasoning for Classification:

  • Domain - Plasmodium falciparum is considered eukaryotic due to the cellular structure, and since it contains organelles.

  • Kingdom - Alveolata contains protists that used to belong to Protista, the artificial kingdom. While the kingdom varies greatly, organisms in this kingdom do have similarities in structure and genetics.

  • Phylum - Apicomplexa contains organisms that have no individual form of motion, except for their gametes.

  • Class - Aconoidasida have a tip at the end of their form which allows them to enter other organisms. They secrete enzymes to aid in penetrating the other species.

  • Order - Haemosporidia literally means blood spores. All members of this phylum are parasitic in vertebrate hosts.

  • Family - Plasmodium (Laverania) a family in Haemosporida. Laverania was the old generic name for malaria causing Haemosporidia protozoa (Center for Cancer Education). 

  • Genus - Plasmodium

  • Species - Four forms of Malaria Plasmodium exist: Plasmodium falciparum, vivax, ovale, and malariae. Plasmodium falciparum is by far the most deadly, which also leads to increased research for a vaccine. It is the only


A huge help in identifying, classifying, and understanding this complex organism was found when the genome for Plasmodium falciparum was sequenced. To learn more about the sequencing of the genome CLICK HERE.


Source of Small Phylogenetic tree: Huestis

Descriptions of classification source: