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

Schneider, Harald, Eric Schuettpelz, Kathleen M. Pryer, Raymond Cranfill, Susana Magallón, and Richard Lupia. “Ferns diversified in the shadow of angiosperms..” Nature 428, no. 6982 (April 2004): 553–57. https://doi.org/10.1038/nature02361. Full Text

Dubuisson, J. Y., S. Hennequin, E. J. P. Douzery, R. B. Cranfill, A. R. Smith, and K. M. Pryer. “rbcL phylogeny of the fern genus Trichomanes (Hymenophyllaceae), with special reference to Neotropical taxa.” International Journal of Plant Sciences 164, no. 5 (January 1, 2003): 753–61. https://doi.org/10.1086/377059. Full Text

Des Marais, D. L., A. R. Smith, D. M. Britton, and K. M. Pryer. “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 (January 1, 2003): 737–51. https://doi.org/10.1086/376817. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., Harald Schneider, Elizabeth A. Zimmer, and Jo Ann Banks. “Deciding among green plants for whole genome studies..” Trends in Plant Science 7, no. 12 (December 2002): 550–54. https://doi.org/10.1016/s1360-1385(02)02375-0. Full Text

Schneider, H., and K. M. Pryer. “Structure and function of spores in the aquatic heterosporous fern family Marsileaceae.” International Journal of Plant Sciences 163, no. 4 (January 1, 2002): 485–505. https://doi.org/10.1086/340736. Full Text

Smith, A. R., H. Tuomisto, K. M. Pryer, J. S. Hunt, and P. G. Wolf. “Metaxya lanosa, a second species in the genus and fern family Metaxyaceae.” Systematic Botany 26, no. 3 (October 11, 2001): 480–86.

Pryer, K. M., A. R. Smith, J. S. Hunt, and J. Y. Dubuisson. “rbcL data reveal two monophyletic groups of filmy ferns (Filicopsida: Hymenophyllaceae)..” American Journal of Botany 88, no. 6 (June 2001): 1118–30. https://doi.org/10.2307/2657095. Full Text

Pryer, K. M., H. Schneider, A. R. Smith, R. Cranfill, P. G. Wolf, J. S. Hunt, and S. D. Sipes. “Horsetails and ferns are a monophyletic group and the closest living relatives to seed plants..” Nature 409, no. 6820 (February 2001): 618–22. https://doi.org/10.1038/35054555. Full Text

Lupia, R., H. Schneider, G. M. Moeser, K. M. Pryer, and P. R. Crane. “Marsileaceae sporocarps and spores from the late cretaceous of Georgia, U.S.A..” International Journal of Plant Sciences 161, no. 6 (January 1, 2000): 975–88. https://doi.org/10.1086/317567. Full Text

Pryer, K. M. “Phylogeny of Marsileaceous Ferns and Relationships of the Fossil Hydropteris pinnata Reconsidered..” International Journal of Plant Sciences 160, no. 5 (September 1999): 931–54. https://doi.org/10.1086/314177. Full Text