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

Sessa, EB, Banks, JA, Barker, MS, Der, JP, Duffy, AM, Graham, SW, Hasebe, M, Langdale, J, Li, F-W, Marchant, DB, Pryer, KM, Rothfels, CJ, Roux, SJ, Salmi, ML, Sigel, EM, Soltis, DE, Soltis, PS, Stevenson, DW, and Wolf, PG. "Between two fern genomes." Gigascience 3 (January 2014): 15-null. (Review) Full Text Open Access Copy

Sigel, EM, Windham, MD, Smith, AR, Dyer, RJ, and Pryer, KM. "Rediscovery of Polypodium calirhiza (Polypodiaceae) in Mexico." Brittonia 66 (2014). Full Text

Grusz, AL, Pryer, KM, Yatskievych, G, Huiet, RL, Gastony, GJ, and Windham, MD. "Refining the phylogeny of cheilanthoid ferns: The resurrection and recircumscription of Myriopteris (Pteridaceae) (Submitted)." Systematic Botany (2013). (Academic Article)

León, B, Rothfels, CJ, Arakaki, M, Young, KR, and Pryer, KM. "Revealing a cryptic fern distribution through DNA sequencing: Pityrogramma trifoliata in the western Andes of Peru (Submitted)." American Fern Journal 103 (2013). (Academic Article)

Rothfels, CR, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "A plastid phylogeny of the cosmopolitan fern family Cystopteridaceae (Polypodiopsida) (Accepted)." Systematic Botany (2013). (Academic Article)

Rothfels, CJ, Larsson, A, Li, F-W, Sigel, EM, Huiet, L, Burge, DO, Ruhsam, M, Graham, SW, Stevenson, DW, Wong, GK-S, Korall, P, and Pryer, KM. "Transcriptome-mining for single-copy nuclear markers in ferns. (Published online)" PLoS One 8, no. 10 (2013): e76957-. Full Text

Li, F-W, Pryer, KM, and Windham, MD. "Gaga, a New Fern Genus Segregated from Cheilanthes (Pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 37, no. 4 (December 1, 2012): 845-860. Full Text Open Access Copy

Beck, JB, Allison, JR, Pryer, KM, and Windham, MD. "Identifying multiple origins of polyploid taxa: a multilocus study of the hybrid cloak fern (Astrolepis integerrima; Pteridaceae)." Am J Bot 99, no. 11 (November 2012): 1857-1865. Full Text

Johnson, AK, Rothfels, CJ, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Unique expression of a sporophytic character on the gametophytes of notholaenid ferns (Pteridaceae)." Am J Bot 99, no. 6 (June 2012): 1118-1124. Full Text

Rothfels, CJ, Larsson, A, Kuo, L-Y, Korall, P, Chiou, W-L, and Pryer, KM. "Overcoming deep roots, fast rates, and short internodes to resolve the ancient rapid radiation of eupolypod II ferns." Systematic Biology 61, no. 3 (May 2012): 490-509. Full Text