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

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

Turner, S., K. M. Pryer, V. P. Miao, and J. D. Palmer. “Investigating deep phylogenetic relationships among cyanobacteria and plastids by small subunit rRNA sequence analysis.The Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 46, no. 4 (July 1999): 327–38. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1550-7408.1999.tb04612.x. Full Text

Wolf, P. G., S. D. Sipes, M. R. White, M. L. Martines, K. M. Pryer, A. R. Smith, and K. Ueda. “Phylogenetic relationships of the enigmatic fern families Hymenophyllopsidaceae and Lophosoriaceae: Evidence from rbcL nucleotide sequences.” Plant Systematics and Evolution 219, no. 3–4 (January 1, 1999): 263–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00985583. Full Text

Hasebe, Mitsuyasu, Paul G. Wolf, Kathleen M. Pryer, Kunihiko Ueda, Motomi Ito, Ryosuke Sano, Gerald J. Gastony, et al. “Fern Phylogeny Based on rbcL Nucleotide Sequences.” American Fern Journal 85, no. 4 (October 1995): 134–134. https://doi.org/10.2307/1547807. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., Alan R. Smith, and Judith E. Skog. “Phylogenetic Relationships of Extant Ferns Based on Evidence from Morphology and rbcL Sequences.” American Fern Journal 85, no. 4 (October 1995): 205–205. https://doi.org/10.2307/1547810. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M., and Christopher H. Haufler. “Isozymic and Chromosomal Evidence for the Allotetraploid Origin of Gymnocarpium dryopteris (Dryopteridaceae).” Systematic Botany 18, no. 1 (January 1993): 150–150. https://doi.org/10.2307/2419795. Full Text

Pryer, Kathleen M. “The Status of Gymnocarpium heterosporum and G. robertianum in Pennsylvania.” American Fern Journal 82, no. 1 (January 1992): 34–34. https://doi.org/10.2307/1547760. Full Text