Kathleen M. Pryer

Professor in the Department 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

Pryer, KM, Schuettpelz, E, Wolf, PG, Schneider, H, Smith, AR, and Cranfill, R. "Phylogeny and evolution of ferns (monilophytes) with a focus on the early leptosporangiate divergences." Am J Bot 91, no. 10 (October 2004): 1582-1598. Full Text

Schneider, H, Schuettpelz, E, Pryer, KM, Cranfill, R, Magallón, S, and Lupia, R. "Ferns diversified in the shadow of angiosperms." Nature 428, no. 6982 (April 1, 2004): 553-557. Full Text

Dubuisson, J-Y, Hennequin, S, Douzery, EJP, Cranfill, RB, Smith, AR, and Pryer, KM. "rbcL phylogeny of the fern genus Trichomanes (Hymenophyllaceae), with special reference to Neotropical taxa." International Journal of Plant Sciences 164, no. 5 (2003): 753-761.

Marais, DLD, Smith, AR, Britton, DM, and Pryer, KM. "Phylogenetic relationships and evolution of extant horsetails, Equisetum, based on chloroplast DNA sequence data (rbcL and trnL-F)." International Journal of Plant Sciences 164, no. 5 (2003): 737-751.

Pryer, KM, Schneider, H, Zimmer, EA, and Ann Banks, J. "Deciding among green plants for whole genome studies." Trends Plant Sci 7, no. 12 (December 2002): 550-554.

Schneider, H, and Pryer, KM. "Structure and function of spores in the aquatic heterosporous fern family Marsileaceae." International Journal of Plant Sciences 163, no. 4 (2002): 485-505. Full Text

Pryer, KM, Smith, AR, Hunt, JS, and Dubuisson, JY. "rbcL data reveal two monophyletic groups of filmy ferns (Filicopsida: Hymenophyllaceae)." Am J Bot 88, no. 6 (June 2001): 1118-1130.

Pryer, KM, Schneider, H, Smith, AR, Cranfill, R, Wolf, PG, Hunt, JS, and Sipes, SD. "Horsetails and ferns are a monophyletic group and the closest living relatives to seed plants." Nature 409, no. 6820 (February 1, 2001): 618-622. Full Text

Smith, AR, Tuomisto, H, Pryer, KM, Hunt, JS, and Wolf, PG. "Metaxya lanosa, a second species in the genus and fern family Metaxyaceae." Systematic Botany 26, no. 3 (2001): 480-486.