UNC Charlotte’s Ann Loraine, PhD, and Research Technician Ivory Clabaugh have achieved something uncommon. They have found a way to grow rice indoors in an NCRC growth room. Their rice research is just one of four programs on campus where scientists are working to improve the nutritional value of grains and maximize their potential to prevent diseases like diabetes and cancer.
More Productive Rice, Healthier Oats
Loraine is part of the UNC Charlotte Department of Genetics and Bioinformatics. She is co-investigator on a $3.5 million National Science Foundation grant with scientists from UNC Chapel Hill and Dartmouth College. They are studying plant hormones called cytokinins. Cytokinins are involved in cell growth and differentiation of cells primarily in the roots and shoots of plants. Loraine’s lab is identifying the genes that are critical to productivity and yield in rice, which is important because, as the International Rice Research Institute reports, the grain feeds “half of the world’s seven billion people.”
General Mills, the producer of Cheerios and one of the largest users and handlers of oats in North America, is mapping the oat genome as part of a global consortium of companies and academic researchers. One of General Mills’ goals is to use natural and traditional breeding methods to develop oats with higher and more consistent levels of beta-glucan, which is the soluble fiber that is clinically proven to reduce cholesterol and lessen the risk of stroke and heart disease.The David H. Murdock Research Institute and the UNC Charlotte Bioinformatics Service Division, both at the NCRC, are also part of the effort.