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

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 Open Access Copy

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

Schuettpelz, E., and K. M. Pryer. “Fern phylogeny inferred from 400 leptosporangiate species and three plastid genes.” Taxon 56, no. 4 (January 1, 2007): 1037–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/25065903. Full Text

Nagalingum, N. S., H. Schneider, and K. M. Pryer. “Molecular phylogenetic relationships and morphological evolution in the heterosporous fern genus Marsilea.” Systematic Botany 32, no. 1 (January 1, 2007): 16–25. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364407780360256. Full Text

Nagalingum, N. S., H. Schneider, and K. M. Pryer. “Comparative morphology of reproductive structures in heterosporous water ferns and a reevaluation of the sporocarp.” International Journal of Plant Sciences 167, no. 4 (July 1, 2006): 805–15. https://doi.org/10.1086/503848. Full Text

Korall, Petra, Kathleen M. Pryer, Jordan S. Metzgar, Harald Schneider, and David S. Conant. “Tree ferns: monophyletic groups and their relationships as revealed by four protein-coding plastid loci.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 39, no. 3 (June 2006): 830–45. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2006.01.001. Full Text

Korall, P., D. S. Conant, H. Schneider, K. Ueda, H. Nishida, and K. M. Pryer. “On the phylogenetic position of Cystodium: It's not a tree fern - It's a polypod!.” American Fern Journal 96, no. 2 (April 1, 2006): 45–53. https://doi.org/10.1640/0002-8444(2006)96[45:OTPPOC]2.0.CO;2. Full Text