Kokulapalan (Gokul) Wimalanathan, a BCB graduate student in both the Professor Carolyn Lawrence Dill and Professor Erik Vollbrecht research groups, presented two posters at the Australasian Genomic Technologies Association (AGTA) 2015 conference held in Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia. His posters on his research studies in both labs received a best poster award.
Gokul’s poster from Dill-Plant Informatics and Computation Lab (PICL) describes his project to use computational methods to improve the functional annotation of maize genes. Experimentally characterizing how each gene in maize functions (total ~40,000 genes) is an expensive and laborious process. Alternatively, computational tools can be used to predict the function performed by each gene in maize faster. These functional predictions will aid in interpretation of large scale experimental studies in maize, and also aid in the studies aimed at improving maize as a crop species.
His poster from his project in the Vollbrecht lab described the method developed in the lab to find the location in the maize genome that is responsible for a specific physical trait. As a lab interested in maize flower development, the Vollbrecht lab routinely works with plants that show abnormal mutant flowering traits. The method developed identifies the genomic location that causes the mutant flowering trait at a lower cost than existing next-generation sequencing based methods. The lab has already used this method successfully with other mutant traits in maize.