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

Rothfels, C. J., M. A. Sundue, M. Kato, A. Larsson, L. Y. Kuo, E. Schuettpelz, and K. M. Pryer. “A revised classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiales: Polypodiopsida).” Taxon 61 (2012): 515–33.

Pryer, K. M. “The distinguished legacy of DMB: Donald MacPhail Britton (1923 - 2012).” American Fern Journal 102 (2012).

Rothfels, C. J., M. A. Sundue, L. Y. Kuo, A. Larsson, M. Kato, E. Schuettpelz, and K. M. Pryer. “A revised family-level classification for eupolypod II ferns (Polypodiidae: Polypodiales).” Taxon 61, no. 3 (January 1, 2012): 515–33. https://doi.org/10.1002/tax.613003. Full Text

Beck, James B., Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Do asexual polyploid lineages lead short evolutionary lives? A case study from the fern genus Astrolepis.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 65, no. 11 (November 2011): 3217–29. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2011.01362.x. Full Text

Sigel, E. M., M. D. Windham, L. Huiet, G. Yatskievych, and K. M. Pryer. “Species relationships and farina evolution in the cheilanthoid fern genus Argyrochosma (Pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 36, no. 3 (July 1, 2011): 554–64. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364411X583547. Full Text

Wolf, Paul G., Joshua P. Der, Aaron M. Duffy, Jacob B. Davidson, Amanda L. Grusz, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “The evolution of chloroplast genes and genomes in ferns.Plant Molecular Biology 76, no. 3–5 (July 2011): 251–61. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11103-010-9706-4. Full Text

Li, Fay-Wei, Li-Yaung Kuo, Carl J. Rothfels, Atsushi Ebihara, Wen-Liang Chiou, Michael D. Windham, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “rbcL and matK earn two thumbs up as the core DNA barcode for ferns.Plos One 6, no. 10 (January 2011): e26597. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0026597. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., Eric Schuettpelz, Layne Huiet, Amanda L. Grusz, Carl J. Rothfels, Tony Avent, David Schwartz, and Michael D. Windham. “DNA barcoding exposes a case of mistaken identity in the fern horticultural trade.Molecular Ecology Resources 10, no. 6 (November 2010): 979–85. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-0998.2010.02858.x. Full Text

Korall, Petra, Eric Schuettpelz, and Kathleen M. Pryer. “Abrupt deceleration of molecular evolution linked to the origin of arborescence in ferns.Evolution; International Journal of Organic Evolution 64, no. 9 (September 2010): 2786–92. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.01000.x. Full Text

Beck, J. B., M. D. Windham, G. Yatskievych, and K. M. Pryer. “A diploids-first approach to species delimitation and interpreting polyploid evolution in the fern genus astrolepis (pteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 35, no. 2 (April 1, 2010): 223–34. https://doi.org/10.1600/036364410791638388. Full Text