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

Beck, JB, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Do asexual polyploid lineages lead short evolutionary lives? A case study from the fern genus Astrolepis." Evolution 65, no. 11 (November 2011): 3217-3229. Full Text

Wolf, PG, Der, JP, Duffy, AM, Davidson, JB, Grusz, AL, and Pryer, KM. "The evolution of chloroplast genes and genomes in ferns." Plant Mol Biol 76, no. 3-5 (July 2011): 251-261. Full Text

Li, F-W, Kuo, L-Y, Rothfels, CJ, Ebihara, A, Chiou, W-L, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "rbcL and matK earn two thumbs up as the core DNA barcode for ferns." PLoS One 6, no. 10 (2011): e26597-. Full Text

Sigel, EM, Windham, MD, Huiet, L, Yatskievych, G, and Pryer, KM. "Species relationships and farina evolution in the cheilanthoid fern genus Argyrochosma (Pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 36, no. 3 (2011): 554-564. Full Text

Pryer, KM, Schuettpelz, E, Huiet, L, Grusz, AL, Rothfels, CJ, Avent, T, Schwartz, D, and Windham, MD. "DNA barcoding exposes a case of mistaken identity in the fern horticultural trade." Mol Ecol Resour 10, no. 6 (November 2010): 979-985. Full Text

Korall, P, Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "Abrupt deceleration of molecular evolution linked to the origin of arborescence in ferns." Evolution 64, no. 9 (September 2010): 2786-2792. Full Text

Beck, JB, Windham, MD, Yatskievych, G, and Pryer, KM. "A diploids-first approach to species delimitation and interpreting polyploid evolution in the fern genus astrolepis (pteridaceae)." Systematic Botany 35, no. 2 (2010): 223-234. Full Text

Grusz, AL, Windham, MD, and Pryer, KM. "Deciphering the origins of apomictic polyploids in the Cheilanthes yavapensis complex (Pteridaceae)." Am J Bot 96, no. 9 (September 2009): 1636-1645. Full Text

Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "Evidence for a Cenozoic radiation of ferns in an angiosperm-dominated canopy." Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106, no. 27 (July 7, 2009): 11200-11205. Full Text

Pryer, KM, and Hearn, DJ. "Evolution of leaf form in marsileaceous ferns: evidence for heterochrony." Evolution 63, no. 2 (February 2009): 498-513. Full Text