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

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

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.