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

Li, F. W., K. M. Pryer, and M. D. Windham. “Gaga, a new fern genus segregated from cheilanthes (pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 37, no. 4 (October 1, 2012): 845–60. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364412X656626. Full Text Open Access Copy

Pryer, Kathleen M. “The Distinguished Legacy of DMB: Donald MacPhail Britton (1923–2012).” American Fern Journal 102, no. 4 (October 2012): 241–51. https://doi.org/10.1640/0002-8444-102.4.241. Full Text

Rothfels, C. J., M. A. Sundue, L. Y. Kuo, A. Larsson, M. Kato, E. Schuettpelz, and K. M. Pryer. “A revised family-level classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiidae: Polypodiales).” Taxon 61, no. 3 (June 1, 2012): 515–33.

Johnson, Anne K., Carl J. Rothfels, Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Unique expression of a sporophytic character on the gametophytes of notholaenid ferns (Pteridaceae)..” American Journal of Botany 99, no. 6 (June 2012): 1118–24. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1200049. Full Text

Rothfels, Carl J., Anders Larsson, Li-Yaung Kuo, Petra Korall, Wen-Liang Chiou, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “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. https://doi.org/10.1093/sysbio/sys001. Full Text

Rothfels, C. J., M. A. Sundue, M. Kato, A. Larsson, L. Y. Kuo, E. Schuettpelz, and K. M. Pryer. “A revised classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida).” Taxon 61 (2012): 515–33.

Pryer, K. M. “The distinguished legacy of DMB: Donald MacPhail Britton (1923 - 2012).” American Fern Journal 102 (2012).

Beck, James B., Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Do asexual polyploid lineages lead short evolutionary lives? A case study from the fern genus Astrolepis..” Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 65, no. 11 (November 2011): 3217–29. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01362.x. Full Text

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, L. Huiet, G. Yatskievych, and K. M. Pryer. “Species relationships and farina evolution in the cheilanthoid fern genus Argyrochosma (Pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 36, no. 3 (July 1, 2011): 554–64. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364411X583547. Full Text

Wolf, Paul G., Joshua P. Der, Aaron M. Duffy, Jacob B. Davidson, Amanda L. Grusz, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “The evolution of chloroplast genes and genomes in ferns..” Plant Molecular Biology 76, no. 3–5 (July 2011): 251–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11103-010-9706-4. Full Text