"Diet, Life History, and the Primate Gut Microbiome" with Dr. Elizabeth Mallott

Thursday, February 6th, 2020 12:00 – 1:30 pm

African Studies Seminar Room, Fifth Floor 232 Bay State Road

The gut microbiome plays an important role in primate nutrition and physiology. Gut microbes break down otherwise undigestible food and mediate nutrient absorption. The transition to a diet that focuses more heavily on animal prey has shifted the composition of primate gut microbiomes in ways that may increase the amount of energy gut microbes provide to the host. Additionally, we see similar shifts in the gut microbiome during pregnancy and lactation in female primates, which may contribute to shorter interbirth intervals in primates.

Liz Mallott is a Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Dartmouth College and a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University. She is a molecular primatologist interested in the role of the gut microbiome in primate foraging ecology and primate life history strategies. Much of her research has focused on studies of wild white-faced capuchins in Costa Rica, and her recent work has expanded to include comparative studies of human and nonhuman primates that examine whether human’s unique energetic demands have resulted in a gut microbiome distinct from that of other primates.