Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor in the Department of Biology

358 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
(919) 660-7380
My research focuses on understanding the evolutionary relationships of ancient land plants, especially ferns and horsetails, by integrating evidence from morphology, molecules (DNA sequence data from multiple genes), and the fossil record. I use an explicit phylogenetic framework to examine the morphological evolution of various sporophytic and gametophytic characters within vascular plants, and to gain insight into the evolution of various life history traits and the body plans that typify vascular plants. A phylogenetic perspective also informs my molecular evolutionary studies that attempt to elucidate why we observe remarkable rate heterogeneity in chloroplast genes in land plant phylogeny.


  • Ph.D., Duke University 1995

  • M.S., University of Guelph (Canada) 1981

  • B.S., McGill University (Canada) 1976

Schuettpelz, E, Pryer, KM, and Windham, MD. "A Unified Approach to Taxonomic Delimitation in the Fern Genus Pentagramma (Pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 40, no. 3 (January 1, 2015): 629-644. Full Text Open Access Copy

Li, F-W, Melkonian, M, Rothfels, CJ, Villarreal, JC, Stevenson, DW, Graham, SW, Wong, GK-S, Pryer, KM, and Mathews, S. "Phytochrome diversity in green plants and the origin of canonical plant phytochromes." Nature communications 6 (January 2015): 7852-. Full Text Open Access Copy

Rothfels, CJ, Johnson, AK, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Low-copy nuclear data confirm rampant allopolyploidy in the cystopteridaceae (Polypodiales)." Taxon 63, no. 5 (October 1, 2014): 1026-1036. Full Text

Sigel, EM, Windham, MD, Haufler, CH, and Pryer, KM. "Phylogeny, Divergence Time Estimates, and Phylogeography of the Diploid Species of the Polypodium vulgare Complex (Polypodiaceae)." Systematic Botany 39, no. 4 (October 1, 2014): 1042-1055. Full Text

Sigel, EM, Windham, MD, Smith, AR, Dyer, RJ, and Pryer, KM. "Rediscovery of Polypodium calirhiza (Polypodiaceae) in Mexico." Brittonia 66, no. 3 (September 2014): 278-286. Full Text

Li, F-W, Villarreal, JC, Kelly, S, Rothfels, CJ, Melkonian, M, Frangedakis, E, Ruhsam, M, Sigel, EM, Der, JP, Pittermann, J, Burge, DO, Pokorny, L, Larsson, A, Chen, T, Weststrand, S, Thomas, P, Carpenter, E, Zhang, Y, Tian, Z, Chen, L, Yan, Z, Zhu, Y, Sun, X, Wang, J, Stevenson, DW, Crandall-Stotler, BJ, Shaw, AJ, Deyholos, MK, Soltis, DE, Graham, SW, Windham, MD, Langdale, JA, Wong, GK-S, Mathews, S, and Pryer, KM. "Horizontal transfer of an adaptive chimeric photoreceptor from bryophytes to ferns." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111, no. 18 (May 2014): 6672-6677. Full Text

Korall, P, and Pryer, KM. "Global biogeography of scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae): Evidence for Gondwanan vicariance and limited transoceanic dispersal." Journal of Biogeography 41, no. 2 (February 1, 2014): 402-413. Full Text

Grusz, AL, Windham, MD, Yatskievych, G, Huiet, L, Gastony, GJ, and Pryer, KM. "Patterns of diversification in the xeric-adapted fern genus myriopteris (Pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 39, no. 3 (January 1, 2014): 698-714. Full Text