Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor of Biology

358 Bio Sci Bldg, Durham, NC 27708
Campus Box: 
Box 90338, Durham, NC 27708-0338
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

Grusz, Amanda L., Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Deciphering the origins of apomictic polyploids in the Cheilanthes yavapensis complex (Pteridaceae).American Journal of Botany 96, no. 9 (September 2009): 1636–45. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.0900019. Full Text

Schneider, H., A. R. Smith, and K. M. Pryer. “Is morphology really at odds with molecules in estimating fern phylogeny?Systematic Botany 34, no. 3 (July 1, 2009): 455–75. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364409789271209. Full Text

Schuettpelz, Eric, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Evidence for a Cenozoic radiation of ferns in an angiosperm-dominated canopy.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 106, no. 27 (July 2009): 11200–205. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0811136106. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., and David J. Hearn. “Evolution of leaf form in marsileaceous ferns: evidence for heterochrony.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 63, no. 2 (February 2009): 498–513. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2008.00562.x. Full Text

Hennequin, S., E. Schuettpelz, K. M. Pryer, A. Ebihara, and J. Y. Dubuisson. “Divergence times and the evolution of epiphytism in filmy ferns (Hymenophyllaceae) revisited.” International Journal of Plant Sciences 169, no. 9 (November 1, 2008): 1278–87. https://doi.org/10.1086/591983. Full Text

Schuettpelz, E., A. L. Grusz, M. D. Windham, and K. M. Pryer. “The utility of nuclear gapCp in resolving polyploid fern origins.” Systematic Botany 33, no. 4 (October 1, 2008): 621–29. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364408786500127. Full Text

Nagalingum, N. S., M. D. Nowak, and K. M. Pryer. “Assessing phylogenetic relationships in extant heterosporous ferns (Salviniales), with a focus on Pilularia and Salvinia.” Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society 157, no. 4 (August 1, 2008): 673–85. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1095-8339.2008.00806.x. Full Text

Metzgar, J. S., J. E. Skog, E. A. Zimmer, and K. M. Pryer. “The paraphyly of Osmunda is confirmed by phylogenetic analyses of seven plastid loci.” Systematic Botany 33, no. 1 (March 1, 2008): 31–36. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364408783887528. Full Text

Christenhusz, M. J., H. Tuomisto, J. S. Metzgar, and K. M. Pryer. “Evolutionary relationships within the Neotropical, eusporangiate fern genus Danaea (Marattiaceae).Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 46, no. 1 (January 2008): 34–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2007.09.015. Full Text

Rothfels, C. J., M. D. Windham, A. L. Grusz, G. J. Gastony, and K. M. Pryer. “Toward a monophyletic Notholaena (Pteridaceae): Resolving patterns of evolutionary convergence in xeric-adapted ferns.” Taxon 57, no. 3 (January 1, 2008): 712–24. https://doi.org/10.1002/tax.573005. Full Text