Lane Johnson, PhD
Director of Agricultural Research
Joe Lutz, PhD
Research Scientist/Site Lead
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General Mills is the world’s sixth-largest food company. As the producer of Cheerios and one of the largest users and handlers of oats in North America, the company is committed to research that, through natural and traditional breeding methods, will yield an oat with higher and more consistent levels of beta-glucan. Beta-glucan is the soluble fiber that is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol.
Located in the David H. Murdock core laboratory building at the NC Research Campus (NCRC), General Mills works collaboratively with the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI) to take advantage of their scientific expertise in genomic mapping, wet lab services and sequencing capabilities. General Mills also partners with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte’s Bioinformatics Services Division, which is also located in the NCRC’s core lab building.
General Mills commitment to oat research extends beyond the NCRC. Through a grant to the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), General Mills helped spur a research fund and global research consortium of more than 30 scientists all focused on the creation of an oat genome map and the development of oat varieties with improved nutrition and resistance to drought and pests. The oat is a complex, hexaploid genome, which is more difficult to map than other grains. The collaborative approach to research has increased the understanding of the oat genome so that it now equals that of other grains such as wheat and barley.