Skip to main content

Katherine Amato

Assistant Professor

Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 2013

Research and Teaching Interests

Americas, Africa, Biological Anthropology, Environment, Food, Health & Medicine, Globalization, Development, Evolution


Katie Amato is a biological anthropologist studying the gut microbiota in the broad context of host ecology and evolution. She is particularly interested in understanding how changes in the gut microbiota impact human nutrition and health in populations around the world, especially those with limited access to nutritional resources. She also uses non-human primates as models for studying host-gut microbe interactions in selective environments and to determine whether the human gut microbiota has characteristics that are unique among primates. Her current research focuses on microbial contributions to host nutrition during periods of reduced food availability or increased nutritional demands, as well as microbial influences on brain growth. She has worked in the field extensively with black howler monkeys in southeastern Mexico, and is currently establishing projects with both humans and non-human primates in other parts of the world.

Dr. Amato’s work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Geographic Society. She was recently invited to speak at TEDx Jackson Hole as well as the Early Career Scientists Symposium at the University of Michigan.

Recent Courses:

390 Primate Behavior and Ecology

Select publications:

Kuthyar, S., M. Manus, K.R. Amato. (2019) Leveraging non-human primates for exploring the social transmission of microbes. Current Opinion in Microbiology. 50: 8-14.

Amato, K.R., E.K. Mallott, D. McDonald, N.J. Dominy, T. Goldberg, J.E. Lambert, L. Swedell, J.L. Metcalf, A. Gomez, G.A.O. Britton, R.M. Stumpf, S.R. Leigh, R. Knight. (2019). Convergence of human and Old World monkey gut microbiomes demonstrates the importance of human ecology over phylogeny. Genome Biology. 20(1): 201-213.

Amato, K.R., C.F. Maurice, K. Guillemin, T. Giles-Vernick. (2019) Multi-disciplinary in microbiome research: A challenge and opportunity to rethink causation, variability, and scale. BioEssays. 41(10): 1900007.

Amato, K.R. (2019). Missing links: The role of primates in understanding the human microbiome. mSystems Special Issue on Early Career Scientists. 4: ee00165-19.

J. Clayton, A. Gomez, K.R. Amato, D. Knights, D.A. Travis, R. Blekman, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh, R. Stumpf, T. Wolf, K.E. Glander, F. Cabana, and T.J. Johnson (2018) The Gut Microbiome of Nonhuman Primates: Lessons in Ecology and Evolution. American Journal of Primatology. 80(6): e22867

Amato, K.R., C. J. Yeoman, C. Schmitt, G. Cerda, J.D. Cramer, M.E. Berg Miller, A. Gomez, T. Turner, B.A. Wilson, R. M. Stumpf, K.E. Nelson, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh, B.A. White. (in press). Variable responses of human and non-human primate gut microbiota to a Western diet. Microbiome.

Amato, K.R., R. Martinez-Mota, N. Righini, M. Raguet-Schofield, F.P. Corcione, E. Marini, G. Humphrey, G. Gogul, J. Gaffney7, E. Lovelace, L. Williams, A. Luong, M.G. Dominguez-Bello, R.M. Stumpf, B. White, K. Nelson, R. Knight, S.R. Leigh. (in press). Phylogenetic and ecological factors impact the gut microbiota of two Neotropical primate species. Oecologia

Hale, V., C.L. Tan, R. Knight, K.R. Amato. (2015). Effect of preservation method on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) fecal microbiota over 8 weeks. Journal of Microbiological Methods. 113: 16-26. doi:10.1016/j.mimet.2015.03.021

Amato, K.R., S.R. Leigh, A.D. Kent, R. Mackie, C.J. Yeoman, R.M. Stumpf, B. A. Wilson, K.E. Nelson, B.A. White, P.A. Garber. (2015). The gut microbiota appears to compensate for seasonal diet variation in the wild black howler monkey. (Alouatta pigra). Microbial Ecology. 69(2): 434-443.

Amato, K.R. and N. Righini. (2015). The howler monkey as a model for exploring host-gut microbiota interactions in primates. In: M. Kowalewski, P.A. Garber, L. Cortés-Ortiz, B. Urbani, and D. Youlatos, eds. Howler Monkeys: Adaptive radiation, systematics and morphology. Springer, New York. 229-258.

Amato, K.R., S.R. Leigh, A.D. Kent, R. Mackie, C.J. Yeoman, R.M. Stumpf, B.A. Wilson, K.E. Nelson, B.A. White, P.A. Garber. (2014). The role of gut microbes in satisfying the demands of adult and juvenile wild, black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra). American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 155(4): 652-664. DOI: 10.1002/ajpa.22621

Amato, K.R. (2013). Co-evolution in context: The importance of studying gut microbiomes in wild animals. Microbiome Science and Medicine. 1:10-29. doi: 10.2478/micsm-2013-0002.

Amato, K.R., S. Van Belle, B. Wilkinson. (2013). A comparison of scan and focal sampling for the description of wild primate activity, diet, and intragroup spatial relationships. Folia Primatologica. 84: 87-101.

Amato, K.R., C.J. Yeoman, A. Kent, N. Righini, F. Carbonero, A. Estrada, H.R. Gaskins, R. Stumpf, S. Yildirim, M. Torralba, M. Gillis, B. Wilson, K. Nelson, B. White, S.R. Leigh. (2013). Habitat degradation impacts black howler monkey (Alouatta pigra) gastrointestinal microbes. The ISME Journal. 7: 1344-1353. doi:10.1038/ismej.2013.16.

Back to top