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

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, Sundue, MA, Kuo, LY, Larsson, A, Kato, M, Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "A revised family-level classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiidae: Polypodiales)." Taxon 61, no. 3 (June 1, 2012): 515-533.

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

Rothfels, CJ, Sundue, MA, Kato, M, Larsson, A, Kuo, L-Y, Schuettpelz, E, and Pryer, KM. "A revised classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida)." Taxon 61 (2012): 515-533. (Academic Article)

Pryer, KM. "The distinguished legacy of DMB: Donald MacPhail Britton (1923 - 2012)." American Fern Journal 102 (2012): in press-. (Academic Article)

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 Molecular Biology 76, no. 3-5 (July 2011): 251-261. 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 (July 1, 2011): 554-564. 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

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