Prade received the travel award for her work on pseudogenes in the barley genome. Pseudogenes are gene-like sequences that have lost their original function due to mutations, for example. In spite of their reputation as "junk DNA", current studies indicate a possible functional relevance. A number of groups around the world are conducting research on this topic.
As part of her doctoral studies, Prade characterized pseudogenes in the recently completed barley reference genome: a highly repetitive, complex genome that is also extremely large at 5 Gb. She developed and applied her own pipeline to identify and classify pseudogenes and their different origin. In this context, "pipeline" means the automated calculation and identification of pseudogene elements in a number of successive steps.
Her results now show that a larger number of potential pseudogenes is still transcribed in the barley genome, which consequently could play a role in regulation processes. The database and methodology created here additionally form the basis for planned comparison studies of the pseudogenes in various grain genomes.