Weekly News Bites: Whether the chicken or the egg came first, baby microbiomes, and the foggy old universe

Asia Research News monitors the latest research news in Asia. Some highlights that caught our attention this week are a potential answer to the question of which came first the chicken or the egg, vaginal seeding to boost baby microbiomes, and looking at remnants of the universe that used to be filled with gas.

The age-old question of whether the chicken or the egg came first may have been solved by Nanjing University and Bristol University. The team studied fossils and found that the earliest amniotes (reptiles, birds, and mammals) developed in a womb and so were born live and not in an egg. The researchers also concluded that these early amniotes used extended embryo retention which means that the mother could keep the baby inside until conditions were favorable for birth.

A study by Nagoya University has shown a possible link between endometriosis and a bacterial infection (Fusobacterium) which also causes gum disease. The bacteria were found in the uteruses of 64% of patients suffering from endometriosis and symptoms were seen when the bacteria was transplanted to mice. If bacteria do play a role there is hope that this painful condition can be treated with antibiotics

Babies that don’t pass through the vagina during birth have a different proportion of gut bacteria types than babies that do. Vaginal seeding (introducing bacteria from mother to baby through vaginal fluids) can help balance the microbiome of babies born by C-section, says research by the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and Southern Medical University in Guangzhou.  

Food loss and waste was responsible for almost 10 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions in 2017 says a study by Nanyang Technological University. Around a third of food is lost during the stages from harvesting to eating including processing and consumer waste. The study showed that high-income and low-income countries contributed differently to these emissions and that targets should be tailored to their specific causes of food waste.

The universe was once filled with gas that was dense enough to block most light from traveling though. The Epoch of Reionization was a time period when the gas dissipated. Researchers, including a team from Nagoya University, are studying these foggy times by looking at galaxies from the first billion years using the Webb space telescope.