Helmholtz Zentrum München Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt

Travel grant for Verena Prade, PGSB

Verena Prade, graduate student in the Plant Genome and Systems Biology (PGSB) Research Unit, has received a travel grant for the International Plant and Animal Genome Conference. With over 3,000 attendees, 150 workshops, 1,100 posters and 1,800 abstracts, it is the largest and most important genome-oriented biology conference in the plant sector. She will travel to San Diego, California in January and present her results.

Verena Prade. Photo: HMGU

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.

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