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

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

Schuettpelz, E., P. Korall, and K. M. Pryer. “Plastid atpA data provide improved support for deep relationships among ferns.” Taxon 55, no. 4 (January 1, 2006): 897–906. https://doi.org/10.2307/25065684. Full Text

Smith, A. R., K. M. Pryer, E. Schuettpelz, P. Korall, H. Schneider, and P. G. Wolf. “A classification for extant ferns.” Taxon 55, no. 3 (January 1, 2006): 705–31. https://doi.org/10.2307/25065646. Full Text

Wikström, Niklas, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Incongruence between primary sequence data and the distribution of a mitochondrial atp1 group II intron among ferns and horsetails.Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 36, no. 3 (September 2005): 484–93. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2005.04.008. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., Eric Schuettpelz, Paul G. Wolf, Harald Schneider, Alan R. Smith, and Raymond Cranfill. “Phylogeny and evolution of ferns (monilophytes) with a focus on the early leptosporangiate divergences.American Journal of Botany 91, no. 10 (October 2004): 1582–98. https://doi.org/10.3732/ajb.91.10.1582. Full Text