Lilies forum: Cut-style pollination

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Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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dellac
Dec 10, 2012 7:59 PM CST
Has anyone here had any experience with this technique?

I want to give it a go. Something in particular is puzzling me - how does one cap the pollinated stump to protect it from weather/other pollen? Would the traditional foil cap, but placed around entire ovary, work without baking the ovary in the sun? Would increased temperature be advantageous to getting fertilisation? If it gets really hot inside what must be something like a tiny foil oven... then obviously the stigma musn't be damaged by such temperatures in a 'normal' pollination, but the ovary might be a different matter? hmm... so may questions, and that's just one little aspect of it.

Any thoughts and/or experience, please.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 11, 2012 6:50 AM CST
Della, I've tried it a few times on a difficult combination where I thought the pollen was too large to enter (a most probable cause, I thought). As you presumed, I had problems with the tradition foil caps--they would fall off unexpectedly. I finally resorted to using a white paper bag, placed over the entire flower which I sliced open a little on the bottom for ventilation. That worked, and if it looks like rain, be prepared to cover temporarily with a plastic bag.

I made my cuts at about a 45' angle with a razor blade facing up. In all cases I cut very close to the stigma. I am not sure if there is a preferred place to make the cut, however--that's something I need to learn, either by somebody else telling me, or by my own experimentation. But at least I got some seed.

I, too, am interested in learning more about this technique!
Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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dellac
Dec 11, 2012 2:55 PM CST
Thanks Roosterlorn, great that you got results! Experimentation is fun. So is learning from others.

So far, I found that the blades in women's razors, if you can pull them apart, are incredibly fine and sharp - seem perfect for the job. I've stored a few in a glass jar with a little methylated spirits, ready for action.

I fiddled yesterday with the foil caps and thought, well, maybe the filaments will help keep it in place, but it really didn't look secure. A little bag sounds surer.

I imagine a 45' cut creates more surface for pollen - that's a good idea. Do you mean that the cut surface ends up facing down, or up? I wonder if it would make a difference? How many seeds did you get from your crosses?
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 11, 2012 6:42 PM CST
The cut suface faces up or outward--so I could see better what I was doing and what was happening over a couple days. I repollenated a second and third time in one instance the second day, although I think this technique is pretty much a one shot deal. I did get some weeping initially which I let dry (hour or so) enough until I thought the pollen would stay rather than creep or drip. Which I learned the hard way.

In the handful of times I've done this, the most seeds I got was 29, and once only 4. All the pods were irregular, distorted and unfilled in form exept one, and that one was most all chaff. Nothing to brag about--but as I said: at least I got some seeds. Further dissapointing was the the cross of 4 seeds failed to germinate. Some of the others should have a flower or two next June/July.

I've given some thought about using petrolium jelly as sealant on the second or third day; maybe even a paraffin dip or even. a 'first aid' type Band Aid spray for cuts, etc. Something I could try on a couple junk Regales as an experiment. Problem is tho, I'm so busy making my crosses during that time I hardly have time for much anything else.








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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Dec 12, 2012 9:43 PM CST
Regarding foil caps, if you're thinking about the type that could be formed around a pencil (for instance), and then slipped over the pistil and tightened, I never use them. I'm sure they work great for flowers with large pistils, but I am usually working with much smaller flowers and more delicate flower parts, so those "elephant noses" wouldn't work for me. This is what I do, and with a little innovation perhaps, it will work on cut styles:

I cut small rectangles of tin foil of various sizes so I have a range to choose from when I am out in the garden with various size flowers to pollinate.

Thumb of 2012-12-13/Leftwood/356bf8

After I have actually done the pollination, a rectangle gets folded in half and slipped over the stigma. An additional quick fold, crease, crinkle... (however you want to do it) to secure in place will finish the job. Too much futsing will weaken the folds/creases/crinkles and they won't hold. If this happens, just try again with a new rectangle. No big deal. Smiling This particular flower (below) had a large stigma to grasp around, and it is an upfacing flower, so attention to detail wasn't necessary.

Thumb of 2012-12-13/Leftwood/6542ee

For down facing flowers, it is a bit more difficult, and with many species the stigma is hardly larger than the style itself. Steady hands and practice will help a lot. You will develop what works best for you. For a cut style, the tiniest dab of glue, applied with a toothpick to the style away from the cut end, that will make contact with the foil, should keep it in place. I've never needed to do this, but I can't imagine that it could hurt anything. Just be gentle.
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In fact I've never tried a cut style pollination. Though I've always been at the ready, the need has not presented itself, or so I think. The main reason for this method is to shorten the distance a pollen tube from a pollen grain must grow (down the style to the ovary) for fertilization to take place. It is (apparently) a known fact that using a short styled parent A for pollinating a long styled parent B often is not successful because the pollen from the short styled parent doesn't grow a pollen tube long enough/fast enough to do the job through the much longer styled pistil of parent B. The other reason is thought to be that the stigmatic fluid (found only at the stigma) might have a blocking effect for wide crosses. But in other cases, dabbing stigmatic fluid on the cut end of a style is sometimes recommended in increase success.

At any rate, I don't see any advantage to cutting the style just below the stigma, as opposed to half way down. Perhaps you have some insight on this, Lorn? Me, I would always cut half way down to hedge my bets.

I think we'd all be interested to know what parents you've tried, Lorn, and the successes/failures in those respects.

[Last edited by Leftwood - Dec 12, 2012 9:54 PM (+)]
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Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 13, 2012 7:41 AM CST
Rick, I made the cut close to the stigma because at the time I really didn't know (any better). All I knew was what I was told or heard somehere along the line back then, was that sometimes pollen grains may be too large for pollenation. And cutting close behind the stigma (I thought) would give me a larger surface area and larger tube opening to work with. So, I thought I'd give it a try since previous attempts by conventional methods didn't work. Now you've added a couple more good ideas and they may give clues as to why I had (in my case) limited success--so, real good information to know and apply!

Here, then, is the one I wanted to incorperate a higher bud count and better infloresence to: the pod parent.

A7 Thumb of 2012-12-13/Roosterlorn/331f54

And this is the one I used as the pollen parent:

A9 Thumb of 2012-12-13/Roosterlorn/fccbcd
Thumb of 2012-12-13/Roosterlorn/cbe5a0
Thumb of 2012-12-13/Roosterlorn/43efca

I don't have many pictures of the A7 plant overall. The individual flower color, form, and substance are outstanding as is it's extremely long drapping foliage. It's drawbacks are it's short rhombus infloresence and low bud count of four or five. The flower is horn shape about 8 inches long with slightly longer style ( a clue?). In the ten years or so that I've had this plant it has never divided or offset. I have some growing from a 2009 effort so hopefully this year I'll have something from that. This year I let it open pollenate because next fall I plan to lift and scale. You can tell by the A-alpha, these go back to my early days. Both of these plants were given to me from an estate sale of whom I became more and more convinced over time must also have been a cross pollenator/seeder.

Edit added: Also, at the time, I was pollenating with the theory that when it came to flower color--it would most likely favor the pod parent--something I now agree with you on; it more than likely would be a blend of both parents. That's why I kept working in one direction only. This year I did a reverse and got a few good seeds--we'll see.
[Last edited by Roosterlorn - Dec 13, 2012 8:20 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Dec 13, 2012 10:54 AM CST
I've never heard this thing about pollen grain size being a factor. However, I don't "hear" everything either. Big Grin
Of course, it would have to be the size of the pollen tube the emerges from the pollen grain to penetrate the stigma that might be a factor, rather than the actual size of the pollen grain itself, I would think. And I suppose it might make sense that large pollen grains would produce larger pollen tubes. Whether this is true or not, I don't know, and I suspect that, as in most cases, there is variation.

Talking about actual surface area of a stigma versus a cut style, of course the stigma would have more (being larger). I think we are talking semantics here, and the real (possible) difference is the entry surface make up, which might be chemically and/or physically different. And the physical difference could well include an acceptance of larger pollen grains/tubes.

Regarding a need for a cut style in relation to style length, I think there are variables. In closely related pod parents, I would think a cut style would only be needed if the pod parent's style was at least 1.25 times the length of the pollen parent's stlye. However, if the pod parent is more distantly related, the chemical make up of the style may be more difficult for the pollen tube to penetrate. I don't know. Again, at any rate the advantage of a style cut in half versus one cut near the stigma end is more likely.

Frankly, I don't see why you would have such difficulty crossing those two pictured (A7, A9) via simple pollination. Did they really have significantly different sized pollen grains? Much surprise here. And if those are indeed hybrids to begin with, surely there would be no problem hybridizing them with the traditional method. Perhaps weather conditions did not cooperate in prior attempts. L. regale, literature purports, is a reluctant hybridizing pod parent, and seems to prefer apomixis.

l see tell tale signs of borderline fasciation on A9: the groovings in the stem that terminate with the individual flower stems. Fasciation doesn't have to produce flat stems, and it is not necessarily a bad thing. The phenomenon is such an enigma that it is difficult to tell where it begin or ends! So I am not sure if the high bud count can/will be transmitted genetically. However the pedicel form is fairly elegant (although I have seen more pronounced S shapes), and a worthy trait to impart if A7 has straight or down turned pedicels. BTW, I really love A7's tepal form.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 13, 2012 8:41 PM CST
Well, I certainly can't explain why the conventional method didn't work. Certainly, the physical make up as it appears is pretty much equal between the two flowers. And, at first glance, one would think this would be an easy job. I never looked at the grain size of A9 under magnification. It is however, not the easiest, nicest pollen to to work with; it tends to 'cake up' when applied with a Q tip and it's difficult to get that nice even coverage that we like to see. I'm pretty careful with my pollenation--but maybe it's me. Maybe it's grain cone size EDIT: SHOULD READ: GRAIN TUBE SIZE, or maybe a stigma problem with A7. I don't think it was stigma fluid incompatibility. This past summer, when I made the decision to scale A7 in the fall of 2013, I gave some thought that this plant may be carrying a hidden virus that somehow affects its pollenation--after all, I've had this plant for 10 or 12 years and it has never divided or offset either. I wonder. I had to chuckle with the thought of scaling a virused plant if that indeed be the case.

Now, by all accounts, this plant should have been a second round cull long ago. My keeping it goes against the grain of every rule in the book and yet I consider myself a vicious, vicious culler. Period! But I want some features this flower has to offer for future applications. And the fact that it is the product of someone deceased works; that drives me to make something more out of it.

Rick, the picture of A9 you see is pretty much typical of past years. If you notice, it has recently divided. Both are enjoying a good life. Hints of fasciation in the stem might be caused by my over care--not a bad thing, necessarily--as you said.
[Last edited by Roosterlorn - Dec 14, 2012 8:47 PM (+)]
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Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
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dellac
Dec 14, 2012 12:56 AM CST
Beautiful trumpets.

This is all fascinating stuff. I'm listening intently and absorbing all the good information.

Having just cut styles on some of my asiatic seedlings, I can't say I saw any flow that may dislodge pollen - maybe trumpets just get wetter? Hilarious!

I'm trying out L. mackliniae and L. martagon as pollen parents on asiatics, and I hope the shorter style helps, since both these species are on the stumpy side of style physiognomy Green Grin! So I'm cutting the recipient style down near the ovary and placing pollen on immediately. I might try out dabbing over several days too, in case there's a sweet moment in time. What would make the technique a one-shot try, I wonder? Hmm... and I thought there needed to be some moisture on stigma or style surface for pollenation? Is there some research out there on which species may have incompatible fluids? There's so much I don't know, so I'm just prepared to keep making attempts - if anything works then that's a bonus.

Leftwood, I tried the your foil method on a normal pollenation, and actually found my fingers and foil getting in the way of filaments and anthers (I don't always remove the anthers if I find a clean fresh flower/stigma and get the desired pollen on first - making I'm not being careful enough). It's strange - I've never had a problem with rolled foil caps on very small lilies, but then I have rather small long fingers. Maybe it's the perfect job for children. :greengrin:

My 5yr old saw the foil caps today and exclaimed ooohhh... "lily babies are happening again!" She remembers her lessons from last year!

Still listening intently and absorbing the good information!
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 14, 2012 7:34 AM CST
Della--you can transport stigmatic fluid to the surface of your cut from the stigma of another flower of the same plant but on the second and third attempts you'll see, you'll start piling pollen on top of pollen. that's why I call it a one shot deal. In conventional pollenation tho, I've found that pollenation over several days gives me the fullest pods with the least chaff. Keep in mind throughout our discussions that I work with Trumpets and Aurelians where I have plenty of stigmatic fluid present.
[Last edited by Roosterlorn - Dec 14, 2012 9:39 AM (+)]
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Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Dec 14, 2012 8:11 PM CST
I never use Q-tips myself. I don't think it would be detrimental on hybrid lilies with large and bold sexual parts, but I dabble with several genera that are much more delicate. But even with lilies, I either pinch off a stamen and transfer the pollen directly or use a paint brush. A cotton swab may seem soft to us, but it is really quite unyielding in comparison. Also take into consideration the tendency cotton has to grab onto miniscule objects or even itself (think of how a spinning wheel works) due to its rough texture at a microscopic level. With a paint brush, I bet you'll find that pollen clumping is less of a problem, as the brush hairs will inherently separate the grains for you. And spreading the grains evenly over the stigma is so very easy, even placing grains in stigma crevices where they may have a better chance of germinating, given certain weather conditions. Try doing that with a Q-tip! I never need to worry about accidentally damaging a stigma with a paint brush.

Never heard of grain cone size in relation to Lilium.

In regards to unsuccessful pollinations, Lorn, have you considered the possibility of ploidy incompatibility?

If you are multiplying a virus unintentionally via scaling, you wouldn't be the first. Snowdrop (Galanthus) enthusiasts have been unknowingly chipping and twin scaling bulbs of cultivars later found to be virsused for centuries. Only in the past decade or so has some of these desired qualities been found to be virus induced.
A7 is indeed super floriferous, and perhaps that is why it hasn't increased substantially over the years. I have an unidentified Chinese trumpet species that has never divided or produce any stem bulblets, too, in the six years I have had it.

About cut style bleeding: I can't recall any hybridizer using the method mentioning it. But I don't know that they would make any point of it. If the sap seemed to flow, of course they would wait until it subsides before applying pollen. It would be silly not to!

dellac said:Having just cut styles on some of my asiatic seedlings, I can't say I saw any flow that may dislodge pollen - maybe trumpets just get wetter? Hilarious!

I wouldn't be the least bit surprised that this phenomenon might vary between species and hybrids.

Like you, Della, I often leave stamens on pod parent flowers that I pollinate. Sometimes I still want the pollen for something else. In such a case, I usually remove two or three stamens that will get in the way the most. Pollen stained fingers don't bother me, anyway. Big Grin But I doubt that that actually bothers any of us.....

Your 5 year old just may be a budding future botanist!

I do "way-out" pollination crosses, too. Heck, when you've got the pollen and the pod parent, what have you got to lose? David Sims crossed martagons with asiatics and they are a called martasians. He always had to use the embryo rescue tichnique, since the resulting hybrid embryo was not compatible with the seed endosperm. But you never know, Della. Black Beauty was one of those one-in-ten-thousand crosses. When Leslie Woodriff forst showed off his success, no one believed him.

Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 14, 2012 10:11 PM CST
OOPS--I meant tube size. Just to clarify, in your above post you have some confusion, too.. It is A9 that is the floriferous one that has divided. A7 has been the one with pollenation problems and has never divided or offset. Alpha numeric coding can get confusing--but for me it was always easier than working with names, etc.

Yes, I do think about ploid compatability with pollenation when its established ploidy is known. Don't mean to drift too far off thread here but I really would like to know of a simple test to determine what ploid a plant is, ie: di, tri, poly, tetra, etc. Are there visual characturistics that give clues, etc--something quite simple as in a quick 'ball park' test?

As far as A7 and A9 go, I assumed they are diploids, since they are both most likely the works of a prevoius deceased hobbyist (Estate Sale) and most likely seeded in the mid 1990s. I doubt that unknown person got into chemical seed soaking or chemical enhancers used for doubling--but you never know; maybe a doctor or someone like that could have experimented with it.
Name: Lorn (Roosterlorn)
S.E Wisconsin (Zone 5b)
Lilies Seed Starter Pollen collector Bee Lover Region: Wisconsin
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Roosterlorn
Dec 15, 2012 9:16 AM CST
Rick--I like your idea of using a brush and want to use it on some I want to be more careful with next year. I think I have a pretty good idea of what to look for in a brush but maybe you can save me some time here. Do you have one in particular one you would recommend? As far a Q tips go, it's just that I have become so accustomed to storing pollen in test tubes, then inserting the Q tip and with a gentile tap loading the tip and then rolling it on. And, for the most part, I've been happy with that. But it's easy to visualize how a brush would do a much more gentle application--and thorough as well.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
Image
Leftwood
Dec 15, 2012 8:58 PM CST
Using a Q-tip, I would think a rolling technique would be far better than the dabbing that I envision most people would do.

I read that hybridizers use camel hair brushes, but I don't. I do prefer the more supple brush hairs compared to the stiffer ones. Who would have thought a non-painter would be taking a photo of paint brushes, but here goes...

Thumb of 2012-12-16/Leftwood/bed934

The one on the left, she's too fat for me ♫♪. I suppose when there is LOTS of pollen available, as trumpets usually produce, it would be fine, and it could expedite pollinating multiple subjects with the same pollen. But a big brush will wasted a lot of pollen. Next is a flat brush, also not a favorite. It doesn't conform to a stgma's shape very well. This particular brush also has stiff bristles, which, not only do I have to be more gentle with applications, but stiff brushes usually mean smoother bristle surfaces. Pollen tends to fall off the brush more easily during transport from one flower to the next.

The third and fourth brushes are the types I use. Mostly I like the red one, and the smallest brush I prefer especially when there is a paucity of pollen or the stigma is small. Some of my dwarf iris species produce so little pollen that I am luck to find 5-10 grains!

These are cheap brushes from the dime store. I don't know what they are made out of. The packaging didn't say, so it can't be anything expensive.

A few more pieces of advice:
1) Use the tip of the brush only. You don't slop and slather pollen. Smiling
2) When you think your brush is out of pollen, you are probably wrong. Just keep gently dabbing the stigma. The stickiness of the stigmatic fluid, even if the stigma looks dry, is enough to keep pulling pollen that you don't see from between the hairs of the brush. Gently dabbing a single stigma for 20 or even 30 seconds can be advantageous. You will actually see the stigma take on the color of the pollen, as you repeatedly apply the pollen.
3) When transporting pollen on a brush, no bumping, jostling, flipping or even gently turning the brush over. Hold the brush at the same angle as when you removed the pollen. Only when you are ready to apply the pollen can the aspect change. Otherwise, you will lose a lot of valuable pollen before the deed is done.
Name: della
hobart, tasmania
Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Photo Contest Winner: 2015
Image
dellac
Dec 19, 2012 5:39 AM CST
Leftwood said:

Like you, Della, I often leave stamens on pod parent flowers that I pollinate. Sometimes I still want the pollen for something else. In such a case, I usually remove two or three stamens that will get in the way the most. Pollen stained fingers don't bother me, anyway. Big Grin But I doubt that that actually bothers any of us.....

Your 5 year old just may be a budding future botanist!

I do "way-out" pollination crosses, too. Heck, when you've got the pollen and the pod parent, what have you got to lose? David Sims crossed martagons with asiatics and they are a called martasians. He always had to use the embryo rescue tichnique, since the resulting hybrid embryo was not compatible with the seed endosperm. But you never know, Della. Black Beauty was one of those one-in-ten-thousand crosses. When Leslie Woodriff forst showed off his success, no one believed him.



The more pollen the better! I love the range of colours in pollen, and the delicate way each anther swivels on the end of its filament. I'm prone to just removing a whole anther and transfering straight from that, or straight from the dried, stored anthers. I'm rather sure if I had brushes they would be just that many more things I'd lose just when I needed them! My fingers, on the other hand....

Hilarious!

My young budding botanist is also learning that all those "pollums" spread over the table drying on bits of wax paper, are in fact all different, but she is in fact a mother hen, and gets rather more clucky about the lily mums with their foil caps. I hope it lasts! I thought I might let both kids choose a cross of their own to make this year, and see how their patience holds out waiting 2-3 years for the results!

Embryo rescue fascinates me - I'm very keen to learn the technique. Done a little tissue culture before, many years ago, and once even had the plans for a home-made laminar flow cabinet, but I'm back to square one I think, in re-learning and refreshing! There's no better inspiration than a new, beautiful lily...

I've seen a few pictures of the martasians, and think they're lovely. Folk that stick persistantly at a seemingly impossible cross really have my admiration. It can't hurt at all to try - odds of 1 in 10,000 take some beating!

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