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

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

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 (August 1, 2008): 712–24.

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

Metzgar, J. S., H. Schneider, and K. M. Pryer. “Phylogeny and divergence time estimates for the fern genus Azolla (Salviniaceae).” International Journal of Plant Sciences 168, no. 7 (October 22, 2007): 1045–53. https://doi.org/10.1086/519007. Full Text

Haugen, Peik, Debashish Bhattacharya, Jeffrey D. Palmer, Seán Turner, Louise A. Lewis, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Cyanobacterial ribosomal RNA genes with multiple, endonuclease-encoding group I introns.Bmc Evolutionary Biology 7 (September 8, 2007): 159. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2148-7-159. Full Text

Schuettpelz, Eric, Harald Schneider, Layne Huiet, Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “A molecular phylogeny of the fern family Pteridaceae: assessing overall relationships and the affinities of previously unsampled genera.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 44, no. 3 (September 2007): 1172–85. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2007.04.011. Full Text

Korall, Petra, David S. Conant, Jordan S. Metzgar, Harald Schneider, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “A molecular phylogeny of scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae).American Journal of Botany 94, no. 5 (May 2007): 873–86. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.94.5.873. Full Text