• Funga Nordica, the much awaited update to the excellent Nordic Macromycetes is now out and is set tot become the serious general key for Northern European fungi. Available from most specialist bookshops, it even comes with a free version of Mykokey!

  • Another exciting new book is Alpine Fungi by P.Jamoni

  • Species Accounts have been written for Northern Ireland's fungal priority species

  • Click here for Alick Henrici's key to British Clavariod fungi

  • Click here for maps of the Welsh grassland fungi species

  • Over the last few years, volumes on Xerocomus, Amanita and Polyporaceae have been issued in the Fungi Europaea series

  • More new books: The British Fungus Flora series has two new items - Vol 9 on Lactarius and Vol 1 on the Boletes has been totally updated by Roy Watling and Alan Hills. You can get it from all natural history bookshops. The third volume in the excellent series, Fungi of Northern Europe, is also out featuring Hebeloma

  • The Checklist to the Basidiomycetes of the British Isles has been published by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew. Click here to order online. Well done Nick Legon and Alick Henrici!! It is now also available online.

  • Some new books are now out. Fungi of Switzerland Vol 6 featuring the Russulales (Russula and Lactarius) is now published as is the British Fungus Flora Vol.9: Lactarius. On a different tack, a new book about fungi in the New Naturalist Series by Brian Spooner and Peter Roberts of Kew has been published. This excellent book looks at all aspects of the natural history of fungi from their lifestyle, habitats and ecology to their medicinal and culinary use and place in folklore. Well worth getting (especially with the prices on Amazon!!) 

  • The second European Mycological Association newsletter has been published. Click here to download it (go the Publication page)

  • The Drugs Act 2005 has just come into being getting in just before the election was called. The interesting bit for mycologists is that it is now an offence to have fruiting bodies of any mushroom containing psilocin in your possession. Previously, you were not allowed to possess  psilocin but now, to quote the amendment it says: "In Part 1 of Schedule 2 to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 (c. 38) (Class A drugs), in paragraph 1, insert at the appropriate place- "Fungus (of any kind) which contains psilocin or an ester of psilocin." This now makes Psilocybe semilanceata and other psilocin containing mushrooms a Class A drug. 

This means it is illegal to have Psilocybe semilanceata in your possession and the potential penalty is 7 years in jail, but what does this mean? If you have it in your garden or field, does this mean you have it in your possession? New advice indicates that it will not be a criminal offence if you have psilocin containing mushrooms in your garden, and if you have collected such a mushroom in the wild if you do so without knowing, that is OK IF YOU CAN PROVE YOUR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE. But what about us mycologists who want to identify the mushroom with certainty????

A quick search on the internet reveals the following mushrooms as possessing psilocin in the UK: Conocybe kuehneriana, Copelandia cyanescens, Panaeolina foenisecii,  Panaeolus acuminatus, P. subbalteatus, P. fimicola, P.papilionaceus, Psathyrella candollenana, Inocybe aeruginascens, I. calamistrata, I. corydalina, I. haemacta, Pluteus salicinus, Gymnopilus junonius,  Stropharia aeuginosa, S. caerulea/cyanea, S. pseudocyanea, S. semiglobata and most Psilocybe. There are maybe more, but this is certainly food for thought for forayers.

A piece of legislation rushed through with little thought of the consequences? It looks a little like it. Psilocin is the only chemical listed, but there are a number of other hallucinogenic chemicals out there as well. 

  • Countryside Council for Wales's Research report on "Habitat management to conserve fungi: a literature review" is available from their website for download

  • English Nature have a series of research reports about fungi available for download from their website. These include:

  • Research Report No 597 - Developing tools for assessing fungal interest in habitats
    1: beech woodland saprotrophs

  • Research Report No 420 - Stipitate hydnoid fungi in England: a desk survey.

  • Research Report No 540 - Report on the marsh honey fungus Armillaria ectypa, a UK BAP species 

  • Research Report No 555 - Waxcap-grasslands – an assessment of English sites 

  • More new books: Galli's latest book, this time on Agaricus (Gli Agarici) has now been released (see Mykoflora). Also Manfred Enderle has produced an attractive fungus flora of the Ulm area in Germany. See his website for more details. 

  • Machiel Noordeloos's supplement to his monograph on European Entolomas has just been released. With over 100 new species, new keys and lots of photos, it will be indispensable for anyone interested in this genus. See http://www.entoloma.nl/html/ent_monogr.html for more details

  • Northern Ireland Species of Conservation Concern

    The Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy recommends the creation of two lists identifying species that either require conservation action (priority species) or that need to be monitored to determine if they are threatened (Species of Conservation Concern). EHS has now published these draft lists on their website . The NIFG contributed to this list giving advice on the fungi that should be on the lists and we are pleased that fungi are now being recognized in the conservation scene here. The lists which contain 272 Northern Ireland priority species and 457 Northern Ireland SOCC. There are 16 priority species of fungi (which automatically also become SOCC). For many priority species, conservation action will be undertaken through existing UK species action plans, the management of designated sites or as a part of Northern Ireland Habitat Action Plans. However, some priority species will require Northern Ireland species action plans or all-Ireland species action plans. To read more about what these mean, click the hyperlinks above. 


    The important thing from our point of view is that these species listed below are very important and are worth getting to know so that you can report records of these species. One of the key criteria in listing species was that of a proof of decline. This is particularly difficult to prove with fungi as we have little historical data in NI (prior to the NIFG being formed). However, our dataset of grassland fungi is now improving rapidly and there is a lot of proof that the habitat is declining quickly (hence the species as well). Therefore many of the species listed are grassland species. The list of fungi are:


    Armillaria ectypa Marsh Honey Fungus
    Boletus satanas Devil's Bolete
    Clavaria zollingeri Violet Coral
    Denecoeliopsis johnstonii 
    Entoloma bloxamii Big Blue Pinkgill
    Geoglossum atropurpureum Dark-purple Earthtongue
    Hydnellum aurantiacum Orange Tooth
    Hydnellum concrescens Zoned Tooth
    Hydnellum spongiosipes Velvet Tooth
    Hygrocybe calyptriformis Pink Waxcap
    Hygrocybe lacma Grey Waxcap
    Hygrocybe ovina Blushing Waxcap
    Microglossum olivaceum Olive Earthtongue
    Phellodon melaleucus Grey Tooth
    Porpoloma metapodium Mealy Meadowcap
    Trichoglossum walteri an Earth tongue

    Entoloma bloxamii


    It is worth getting to know these species. Look them up in books and on the NI Atlas on our website to get an idea of their distribution and if you think you might have found some of them, carefully keep a specimen, dry it and pass it on for identification.

    SELECTION CRITERIA FOR NORTHERN IRELAND SPECIES OF
    CONSERVATION CONCERN
    Species fulfilling any of the following criteria:
    1. Northern Ireland Priority Species.
    2. Declining (1% per year)
    3. Scarce and with Northern Ireland being a stronghold (S) consisting of either:-
    • >50% of the Irish population or
    • >20% of the UK population/range occurring in Northern
    Ireland
    4. Amber-listed species in either the Ireland or UK Birds of Conservation Concern (BOCC) lists.
    5. Species listed as Rare in an Irish Red Data Book published with the last 15 years.
    Note:
    Some of the criteria listed in Biodiversity in Northern Ireland: Recommendations to
    Government for a Biodiversity Strategy for species of conservation concern have not been applied fully because of difficulty in applying the criteria or their application would result in unduly large list. These may be reviewed at a later stage and include:-
    • Species which are rare or scarce without conforming to any of the above criteria
    • Genetically distinct in Ireland (e.g. Irish sub-species)
    • Species which are functionally critical to ecosystems

  • SOD in Northern Ireland. The fungus, Phytophthora ramorum, that causes SOD or Sudden Oak Disease is the fungus of the moment. It has killed thousands of trees in the western US states of California, Oregon and Washington and it is here in Europe and Ireland as well. Despite its name, it affects many types of trees and shrubs. Amongst others, it affects species in the genera Quercus (oak), Fagus (Beech), Corylus (Hazel), Rhododendron (Rhododendron and azalea), Aesculus (horse chestnut), Arbutus (strawberry tree), Viburnum, Arctostaphylos (Cloudberry), Lonicera (honeysuckle), Acer (Sycamore), Rhamnus (buckthorn) and Camellia. Douglas Fir and the Coastal Redwoods also harbour the fungus. It does not however affect all species in these genera and so far has not been found in our native oaks like the Sessile oak (Q.petraea) or Pedunculate oak (Q.robur) or Corylus avellana (Hazel). It is most commonly found in nurseries affecting Rhododendron and Viburnum, but has been found on Beech and Horse Chestnut in the wild in SW England. This is the panic - that it might spread and cause as much devastation as it has in the US. Look at these US websites to see what is happening there including a nice example of web GIS showing where all the outbreaks are in California: Sudden Oak Death ; Oak Mapper Washington State website; Oregon State website; all of these have lots of photos of how to recognise the disease in the various trees as does the Plant Management Network. It is also costing the US Government big money with the US Department of Agriculture putting $15.5 million into the fight against the disease in May 2004. 
 
  • There is lots of information about P.ramorum in the British Isles as well. The best sites are the DEFRA site and the Forestry Commission site. After a large survey in late 2003, early 2004, there was little evidence of it spreading out of the SW of England where the disease had affected a few trees outside nurseries. However, it has also been found in three nurseries in Northern Ireland on Rhododendron and Viburnum (see DARDNI website), but again it has been limited to these nurseries. There is even new legislation in place in NI with the The Plant Health (Phytophthora ramorum) Order (Northern Ireland) 2003 now in place making it illegal to transport infected plants. So it looks as if this nasty disease is here to stay. Look at the photos on the websites listed and contact those working on the disease quickly if you think you see an infected plant!
   
  • A member of our group,  Royal Moore, has been presented with a Benefactors Medal by the British Mycological Society for services to Mycology. Roy set up and ran the first BMS website and is also on the editoral board of the Mycologist. Well done, Roy!
 
  • The Field Studies Council and the BMS have produced a lovely fold out ID guide to common fungi. It is a laminated colourful guide which identifies most of our common species using easy to understand questions. If a species does not key out, there is a little picture of a book which means you have to go look at other books! It also contains lots of useful tips like how to take a spore print and a section on what fungi are and do. A great idea to capture young and old minds alike and take them on the fascinating first step in giving a fungus a name. And it also contains a link to our website!! Click here for more details
 
  • Environment & Heritage Service has created a website all about the peatlands of Northern Ireland. It contains all sorts of information about the biodiversity of peatlands and their use and cultural heritage. It also contains a page on the fungi of Irish peatbogs (unfortunately under the "Plants" section). Click here to visit the site.  

 

  • "The Musical Atlas of Mushrooms" - a book with accompanying CD - has been published in the Czech Republic featuring compositions that are inspired by fungi. The composer Vaclav Halek says that each species has its own song and that he has the gift to hear that song. He has composed over 2600 songs, (some species have inspiring movements in symphonies, others film scores) and over 40 of these are included in the CD accompanying the book. The book is published by the Fontana publishing company in the Czech Republic.

 

  • The proposal to add 33 species of fungi onto Annex I of the Berne Convention has been withdrawn after discussions with the EU Habitats Committee. They were withdrawn mainly for administrative reasons and not scientific grounds and they should be resubmitted after the EU formally adopts the candidate Special Areas of Conservation so far submitted to them by Member States. Adding these fungi to the Berne Convention now would have meant revisiting this list of candidate Special Areas of Conservation at this advanced stage.

 

  • A website devoted to waxcaps in the UK has been set up by the University of Aberystwyth. It is still in its early stages, but should prove to be a very useful resource. Click here to see it. 

 

  • Two new books are now out that are of interest. One is the next in the Fungi Europaei series and it covers Xerocomus. It is by Heidi Ladurner and Giampaolo Simonini. See this link for more details. The other is Mycena d'Europa by Giovanni Robich and is published by the Centro Studi Micologici (the same publisher of Sarnari's Russula book). See here for more details. 

 

  • A European Mycological Association was established at the recent Congress of European Mycologists in the Crimea (22-27 Sep). This is a landmark decision and finally offers a single voice for European mycologists of all disciplines. A working group has been established to draw up a consititution and rules.

 

  • Mycokey, the Danish online key to genera, has been further developed and now offers an excellent key to over 528 genera and more than 2000 pictures on CD. You can order the CD over the web from the Danish Mycological Society. The online key includes 282 genera and 1150 illustrated species.

 

  • Almost 1000 recommended English names have been created for many of our common, rare or protected British fungi. Liz Holden has produced this list under contract from Plantlife, English Nature, Scottish Natural Heritage and the British Mycological Society. The aim is to make fungi more accessible to the wider public and land managers. To see the full list, go to the BMS website.

 

  • Recently, a fascinating report "Ecology and Management of Commercially Harvested Chanterelle Mushrooms" by David Pilz, Lorelei Norvell, Eric Danell and Randy Molina, arrived from the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service in the post. Firstly, may I thank whoever it was that sent it to me, but it is an excellent report pulling together a variety of research on Chanterelles. It is highly recommended and can be viewed in full on the web at the Pacific Northwest Research Station USDA website. I am here picking out some snippets that particularly fascinated me, but I would recommend everyone else to read this document in full. Click for more

 

  • 33 species of fungi are being proposed by Sweden to be put on Annex I of the Berne Convention. These species were decided upon with the help of the European Council for the Conservation of Fungi. If accepted, these species will probably be listed under the Habitats Directive which in turn means that sites will have to be designated in Europe for them as Special Areas of Conservation. This is a very significant step in fungal conservation. The species that occur in Northern Ireland (excluding very old records) are Armillaria ectypa, Entoloma bloxamii, Geoglossum atropurpureum, Hygrocybe calyptriformis and Phylloporus pelletieri. The datasheets for these species can be viewed at http://www.nature.coe.int/CP21/tpvs34e.htm

 

  • Scottish Natural Heritage have produced a wonderful colour publication on fungi in their Naturally Scottish series. It is a very colourful informative booklet that is a very informative read about fungi in Scotland. 

 

  • Zheng Wang, a Chinese researcher at the Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts,  is using a number of specimens of Geoglossaceae from the NIFG herbarium to look at the molecular differences between populations of Geoglossaceae species around the world. He is looking at Chinese, European (here Irish), North American and hopefully African specimens and is looking at morphological and molecular differences. We look forward to hearing his results.

 

  • The UK's first truffle farm is nearing maturity. Truffle UK Ltd has a plantation of 100 oak and hazel trees that should be nearly ready to produce its first crop of Périgord truffles. With the potential to make £22,700 per acre for 100lb of truffles, this could be very lucrative indeed.....

 

 

  • A proposal to create a British Fungal Portal is now advanced and an application has gone into the Heritage Lottery Fund for it. It is an exciting project that aims to create a one stop website for finding out anything about fungi in Britain. For more information, click here

 

  • The GBChecklist used in Mycorecs, the database for recording fungi, has finally been incorporated into the other biological recording database, Recorder 2002, thus improving its limited species dictionary. It is being shipped with all of the upgrade CDs from Recorder 2000 to Recorder 2002 which is in itself, a big step on from the previous version. 

 

  • A new book on the Leptonia section of Entoloma has been published. It is in the Italian series, Fungi Non Delineati, and is by Jan Vesterholt. It is called "Contribution to the knowledge of species of Entoloma subgenus Leptonia" and is in English. It aims to be as much of a field key as is possible with Entoloma as is possible and features some wonderful photographs. 

 

  • The Checklist of the Basidiomycetes of Britain and Ireland is progressing very well. This project at Kew is nearing completion and publication hopes to be next year (2003). This is an exhaustive piece of work putting together data from the BMS Database and the Kew and Edinburgh herbaria. 

 

  • The 14th Congress of European Mycologists will be held near Yalta in the Crimea from 22-27 September 2003. There will be sessions on Diversity and Conservation, Ecology, Geography and Mapping, Experimental and Applied Mycology and Systematics and Evolution. For more information, try the Congress website.

 

  • A paper on Waxcaps has been published in the recent Botanical Journal of Scotland. It is an excellent review on their ecology and contains very interesting ideas on what they are doing based on stable isotope analysis. See more on our Waxcap pages. The full reference is: Griffith, G.W., Easton, G.L. & Jones, A.W. (2002). Ecology and Diversity of Waxcap (Hygrocybe spp.) Fungi. Bot.J.Scotl. 54(1), 7-22.

 

  • The Evening Standard in London (8 Oct 2002) reported a local restauranteur finding the "mother of all giant mushrooms". It was a Cep, Boletus edulis, and had a cap diameter of 23cms and weighed 420g. Do we get Ceps that big here? I have seen a Boletus luridiformis (erythropus) some 20cms in diameter. Please send details of any monster finds to me.

 

  • Plantlife have organised a Pink Waxcap (Hygrocybe calyptriformis) Survey aimed at getting their members and the public involved in looking for this very recognizable BAP species. They have distributed a very well produced leaflet and you can enter your records of this species on their website. We look forward very much to finding out the results, but would also encourage anyone sending in records from Northern Ireland to send the records also to the NIFG. Have a look at the Pink Waxcap Survey website

 

  • Environment & Heritage Service have let a contract to survey Waxcap Grasslands in Northern Ireland. This will be a three year contract which aims to survey all the 10km squares in Northern Ireland looking for the best waxcap sites in each. Already in 2002, there have been some 14 new sites for Hygrocybe calyptriformis. 

 

  • Tom Harrington and Derek Mitchell, working in the Burren have found Cortinarius cinnamomeus forming ectomycorrhiza like structures with Carex flacca (Glaucous Sedge) and Carex pilulifera (Pill Sedge). These structures had a mantle and the hyphae infected the epidermal cells but there was no hartig net. This is a real first and certainly would probably explain our finds of Cortinarius croceus in semi-natural grasslands along with Waxcaps. See Mycological Research: 106 (4) 452-459, April 2002 for more details. 

 

  • The article "The Fungi of Irish Grasslands and their value for nature conservation" by Roland McHugh, David Mitchel, Mark Wright and Roy Anderson is now out in Biology and Environment, Vol 101B, No.3, 225-242 (2001). See the Waxcaps page for more information. 

 

  • Researchers in the US have found that eating ordinary Agaricus mushrooms bought in supermarkets uncooked might not be such a good idea. It appears they contain two toxic compounds, benzyl alcohol and agaritine (a carcinogen) are found in these uncooked species. Luckily, both burn off during cooking. Source: ABFG Journal Summer 2002

 

  • The latest volume of Flora Agaracina Neerlandica (FAN for short, the Dutch fungus flora) - Volume 5 is now out. It features Agaricus and Lepiota (April 2002)

 

  • The New Zealand Post Office is issuing a set of stamps about the fungi of New Zealand. They are a beautiful set of stamps and they have selected very colourful native species: Hygrocybe rubrocarnosa, Entoloma hochstetteri, Aseroe rubra, Hericium coralloides, Thaxterogaster porphyreus and Ramaria aureorhiza. You can purchase first day covers etc from the New Zealand Post Stamps Centre.

 

  • 2001 was a strange year. There didn't seem to be a main flush of fungi here in Northern Ireland. Everytime things looked as if they were about to happen, the weather went dry and nothing happened. However, it was not all like that... Dutch newspapers were reporting that 2001 was a bumper year with huge numbers of fungi in woods and roadsides. A "top year" - but not here!

 

  • The Important Fungus Areas (IFAs) report by Plantlife, the British Mycological Society and the Association of British Fungus Groups has now produced an interim list of over 500 sites of great significance for fungi in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. One major problem in the conservation of fungi has been the lack of criteria against which a site could be assessed as to its mycological importance. The object of this project was to build up a database of sites considered to be important for fungi by mycological recorders and to derive criteria against which sites could be assessed. Click here to see the criteria.

    The report was helped with funding by English Nature, the Countryside Council for Wales and Environment Heritage Services.

    There are 13 proposed sites for Northern Ireland.

    The report is available for £5 and details on how to obtain the report comes from http://www.plantlife.org.uk/html/goods_publications.htm

     

  • The Swedish have published a fascinating book , Signalarter, listing lower plant (mosses, fungi and lichens) woodland indicator species. It is excellently presented with full colour photographs for all species listed. It lists indicator species for a range of woodland types and these lists are used to score and rate these woodlands for nature conservation value in terms of lower plants. It is available from.  Click here for the list of species that occur in the British Isles. Could this sort of approach be a model for the UK? To order, go to the SVO (Skogsstyrllsens Forlag) website. The basic idea is that the indicator species should not be hard to identify and that if they are present, they indicate that other rarer species should also be present. They should also be usually be found in sites with endangered species, be found on substrates or niches that are rare or be poor colonizers indicating ancient undisturbed woodland. Well worth a look.

 

  • There is now a fungus group for the Republic of Ireland. The Dublin Naturalist's Field Club fungus Working Group has been set up. For more details and foray dates, click here.

 

  • Roberto Galli has produced another in his excellent series. This time it is on Amanita. Presumably, keys are in English again and the photographs will be of the usual high standard. 

 
  • A new book, "Fungal Conservation: Issues and Solutions" (ISBN: 0-521-80363-2) was published by Cambridge University Press in June. This is the proceedings of last November's symposium on Fungal Conservation in the 21st Century. Price £65 (!!)

 

  • The British Mycological Society has relaunched its website (www.britmycolsoc.org.uk). The design is nice and has a very good feel, but some basic links are missing. Where are the links to the local groups? Where is the link to the BMS database? The jury is out....

 

  • Environment & Heritage Service have let a contract to examine monitoring techniques of waxcap grasslands. It is a one season contract to look at the feasibility of different techniques (transects etc) on some of the best Northern Irish grasslands.

 

  • The National Biodiversity Network Gateway is up and running. The Gateway is the future of distributing biological recording data. Watch the site VERY carefully - an internet solution to combining all biological recording data exists and we should all be part of it!

 

  • A new booklet listing all the reference books relevant to identifying fungi has been published by the BMS. It is called the "Guide to the Literature for the Identification of British Basidiomycetes" and was written by Bert Brand, Alick Henrici and Patrick Leonard. The ISBN number is 0 9527704 5 8 and it costs only £5.

 

  • The possibile Cortinarius workshop with Tor-Erik Brandrud, one of Europe's leading experts in this genus has been postponed until next year due to the Foot and Mouth situation (25-04-01)

 

  • The Fungal Conservation Forum has just produced a leaflet on "Managing your land with fungi in mind". It is a very attractive leaflet that gives general information and contact addresses for further details. 

 
  • Binevenagh ASSI was declared on 24 July 2000 with grassland fungi being listed as a feature of the site. The site has now also become a candidate SAC. Binevenagh is one of Northern Ireland's best sites for grassland fungi with 21 species of waxcap (Hygrocybe) recorded. Species recorded there include Entoloma bloxamii, Entoloma querquedula, Geoglossum atropurpureum, Hygrocybe calyptriformis, Hygrocybe citrinovirens, Hygrocybe nitrata, Hygrocybe ovina, Hygrocybe punicea and Microglossum olivaceum. Possibly even more notable than the number of waxcaps (David Boertmann estimates that any site with 22 or more species is internationally important) is the sheer number of fruiting bodies. Hygrocybe punicea in particular is present in incredible numbers. (12-03-01)
   
  • Important Areas for Fungi. This project aims to identify areas that mycologists feel are good for fungi. Establishing criteria for selecting sites that are mycologically important is very difficult and this project aims to look at it the other way round - by first creating a list of sites that are felt to be good and then looking at what criteria were cited for this decision and then hopefully deciding on common criteria. For Northern Ireland, sites we have suggested include some of our best Waxcap sites: Binevenagh, Monawilkin, Crossmurrin NNR, Rathlin Island and the Belfast Hills plus Cloghy Dunes in Co.Down, for its Geoglossaceae records including Microglossum olivaceum, Crom Estate and the Lower Lough Erne woodlands in Co.Fermanagh. (12-03-01)
 
  • The Northern Ireland Biodiversity Strategy is being presently formulated. On 4 October 2000, the Minister for the Environment, Mr. Sam Foster, was presented with  Recommendations for a Biodiversity Strategy by Dr. Philip Doughty of the Northern Ireland Biodiversity Group. This report sets out 76 recommendations on how best to sustain Northern Ireland’s biodiversity. The NIFG has been involved in this consultation and will continue to have an input into the process especially into identifying species of local conservation concern. Fungi actually played a prominant part in this launch in October with a foray for schools in the ground of Barnett's Park that day. The school children showed our finds to the Minister. (12-03-01)
 
  • Field Mycology. This new journal, now in its second year, is becoming the essential journal for anyone interested in wild fungi at any level. For more information and to order it, click here.(12-03-01)

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