Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor 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

Sessa, Emily B., Jo Ann Banks, Michael S. Barker, Joshua P. Der, Aaron M. Duffy, Sean W. Graham, Mitsuyasu Hasebe, et al. “Between two fern genomes..” Gigascience 3 (January 2014). https://doi.org/10.1186/2047-217X-3-15. Full Text Open Access Copy

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, A. R. Smith, R. J. Dyer, and K. M. Pryer. “Rediscovery of Polypodium calirhiza (Polypodiaceae) in Mexico.” Brittonia, 2014, 1–9.

Grusz, A. L., M. D. Windham, G. Yatskievych, L. Huiet, G. J. Gastony, and K. M. Pryer. “Patterns of diversification in the xeric-adapted fern genus myriopteris (Pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 39, no. 3 (January 1, 2014): 698–714. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364414X681518. Full Text

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, A. R. Smith, R. J. Dyer, and K. M. Pryer. “Rediscovery of Polypodium calirhiza (Polypodiaceae) in Mexico.” Brittonia 66, no. 3 (January 1, 2014): 278–86. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12228-014-9332-6. Full Text

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, C. H. Haufler, and K. M. Pryer. “Phylogeny, divergence time estimates, and phylogeography of the diploid species of the polypodium vulgare complex (Polypodiaceae).” Systematic Botany 39, no. 4 (January 1, 2014): 1042–55. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364414X683921. Full Text

Rothfels, C. J., M. D. Windham, and K. M. Pryer. “A plastid phylogeny of the cosmopolitan fern family cystopteridaceae (Polypodiopsida).” Systematic Botany 38, no. 2 (June 1, 2013): 295–306. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364413X666787. Full Text

León, B., C. J. Rothfels, M. Arakaki, K. R. Young, and K. M. Pryer. “Revealing a cryptic fern distribution through DNA sequencing: Pityrogramma trifoliata in the Western Andes of Peru.” American Fern Journal 103, no. 1 (January 1, 2013): 40–48. https://doi.org/10.1640/0002-8444-103.1.40. Full Text

Rothfels, Carl J., Anders Larsson, Fay-Wei Li, Erin M. Sigel, Layne Huiet, Dylan O. Burge, Markus Ruhsam, et al. “Transcriptome-mining for single-copy nuclear markers in ferns..” Plos One 8, no. 10 (January 2013). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0076957. Full Text