8-11, July 2014

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Special Symposium on Agriculture


A special “Symposium on Applications of Micro and Nano Technologies in Agriculture (SAMNA)” will be held  from July 8-11, 2014, at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as a part of the ISSS International Conference on Smart Materials, Structures, and Systems, ISSS 2014 (http://www.isssonline.in/isss-2014/index.html). This special Symposium is meant not only to bring a much-needed focus  of micro/nano technologies to agriculture but also to excite the participants to work in this area with vigour and to collaborate with one another for a larger goal. The following  have accepted the invitation to present a talk at the Symposium.

 Venue: TBD

 List of Talks

Applications of Nanotechnology in Agriculture:  Concept, Aspects and Prospects

Prof. Anupam Dikshit, FNASc


Biological Products Lab., Botany Department, University of Allahabad, Allahabad


Prof. Anupam Dikshit (b.1954) Ph.D., FBS, FPSI, FNASc.  is serving the 126 year old Central University of Allahabad since 1987 where he has established the Biological Product Lab. in the Department of Botany with an objective of developing Biol. Products of plant origin for agricultural as well as human health. First American, British and Japanese patent of the University was sanctioned for collaborative research between the scientist of CIMAP, MLN Medical college of Allahabad and the University of Allahabad for development of Herbal formulation for skin care. First Independent Patent of the university is also to his credit in July 2008 which was communicated in 2002 by the TIFAC of DST, New Delhi for the development of Medium for the cultivation of Malassezia the causal organism of Pityriasis versicolor. He has published more than 100 research papers in the journals of National and International repute and also published International book entitled “Exploring Nanomaterials with PGPRs in Current agricultural scenario”. Besides, he is member of several academic bodies and achieved many awards. He has supervised 16 Ph.D. and 01 D.Sc. scholars and 05 summer trainees of Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. He also visited UK, USA and Germany

Unsystematic utilization of chemical fertilizers along with the pesticides is adversely affecting the sustainable agriculture which is the backbone of most developing countries economy like India. These chemicals and heavy metal contaminants found in the environment are polluting the environment as well as soil, ultimately affecting the human health. The residues of these chemical substances can be eliminated by employing nanotechnology which has been considered as industrial revolution, aims to make agriculture more eco-friendly. Nanoparticles can be used as nanofertilizers for improvement of crop productivity and quality but having their own dark side when used directly. The side effects of nanofertilizers can be minimized using a group of beneficial, root colonizing, rhizospheric bacteria called as Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPRs). The PGPRs such as Pseudomonas fluorescens, Bacillus subtilis, Paenibacillus elgii and Pseudomonas putida etc. are being used as biofertilizers since decades; enhancing the crop yield by several mechanisms; but with the tremendous increase in the population, efficacy of PGPRs should be increased. The enhanced efficiency of PGPRs can be achieved by interaction of Gold nanoparticles. Thus, there is a need to focus our attention on the production of commercially viable nano-biofertilizers.


Nanosensors: A Paradigm Shift for Pest Management in Agriculture

Dr. Deepa Bhagat


National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Bangalore


Deepa Bhagat is currently a scientist at the National Bureau of Agriculturally Important Insects, the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, Bangalore, India. She joined the ARS in 1999, after completing her M.Sc from Lucknow University in 1997. She obtained her Ph.D. in 2005 on Organic Chemistry from the Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow where she worked on aromatic pi-pi interactions, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial agents. She earned a DBT postdoctoral Fellowship in 2010 and completed her postdoctoral research in nanotechnology under the supervision of Prof. Santanu Bhattacharya, Dept. of Organic Chemistry, IISc. She received an advanced training on nanosensors from the University of California, Davis, in 2011. Dr. Bhagat received an award at the International Conference on  water quality and management for climate resilient agriculture, 2013 and 5th Bangalore Nano 2012, China International Centre for Agricultural Training (CICAT) Fellowship in 2010 as well as the Bioved Fellowship Award in 2007 and Confederation of Horticulture Association of India Fellowship Award in 2013. Dr. Bhagat holds an Honorary Membership on the Advisory Board of the Gujarat Ecology Society and is involved in developing research programmes on marine plants with medicinal value in cooperation with Haryana Biotech Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon, New Delhi.  She is currently working on nanosensors for the early detection of pests and diseases of plants. She has published research papers in international journals and national journals and patented novel nanogels encapsulated pheromones to increase the field-life of various pheromones that disrupt the lifecycles of harmful crop pests without affecting the environment. 

Due to plant pests and diseases, global crop yields are 20 or even 40 percent lower per year, as estimated by the FAO, 2013-based IPPC Secretariat. Approximately, the reduction is of about 26 to 29 % for soybeans, wheat and cotton, to shortfalls of as much as 31 to 40 % for maize, rice and potatoes. The FAO projects 60% more food will be required to feed the expanding world population by 2050 and for that crop production must comprise 80% of the world's food. Hence reduction from crop pests is essential to meet the world's food needs. But, yearly massive crop losses continue to take their toll and these losses have only partially been reduced by the current generation of crop protection measures such as insecticides, pesticides, genetically modified crops and a few biological control methods. Despite India’s relentless increase in pesticide use during the last 40 years, annual crop losses remain unpredictable in their occurrence and far too often, devastating in their severity. When plants diagnosed to be diseased by the traditional practice of identifying whole-organism symptoms, it may be months after the disease had actually infected the plant. By then, the infection may be widespread and entire fields may need to be destroyed. However, nanotechnology operates at the same scale as a virus or disease-infecting particle, and thus nanotechnology holds out the possibility that treatment delivery systems could be activated long before the macro symptoms appear. Thus, nanosensors can be prepared for the detection of pest infestations and for monitoring the environmental conditions linked with pest infestations. Nanosensors may also play a major role in monitoring the predators and parasitoid populations in agricultural fields, as these sensors detect very small levels of chemicals, viruses or bacteria. The need and expense for a significant degree of expertise which recognize and diagnose symptoms of problems from insects, fungal, bacterial or viral pathogens, or nutritional stress can be avoided by easy to use nanosensors. Future improvements may include a miniature device implanted in a plant which detects chemical cues from the pest, parasitoid or predator. As literature references report, after pest infestation the semiochemical profile of crops changes and this can be monitored by using nanosensors particular for one semiochemical. This may also open up the possibility of timely release of the natural enemies. These nanosensors can be connected to computers and thus one can remotely know the health status of the crops. Nanosensor devices can increase scouting capabilities and thereby tremendously improve the grower’s ability to determine the best time of the harvest for the crop and also the health of the crop including the degree of pest infestation. Thus nanosensors are a true breakthrough for agriculture and growers.

Work done with Parikshit Moitra and Santanu Bhattacharya of Department of Organic Chemistry, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore 560 012, India

Development of Cost-effective and Miniature  Soil-Moisture Sensors for Agricultural Applications

Prof. GK Ananthasuresh


Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore


G.K. Ananthasuresh (B. Tech. IIT-Madras, 1989; MS, U. Toledo, 1991; PhD, Michigan, 1994) is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, India. His previous positions include post-doctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA; Associate Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA; and visiting professorships in University of Cambridge, UK, and Katholike Univesiteit, Leuven, Belgium; and IIT-Kanpur. His current research interests include compliant mechanisms, kinematics, multi-disciplinary design optimization, microsystems technology, micro and meso-scale manufacturing, protein design, micromanipulation and bio-design. He served on the editorial boards of eight journals and is a co-author of more than 200 journal and conference papers as well as two edited books, one textbook, and 12 book-chapters. He has seven patents, three granted and six pending. He is a recipient of the NSF Career Award and SAE Ralph O Teeter Educational Award in the USA and the Swarnajayanthi Fellowship and Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar Prize in India as well as 10 best paper awards in international and national conferences.

Sensing moisture level in soil, which plays an important role in optimum utilization of water resources and ensuring the health of crops, can be done using more than a dozen transduction techniques. Many soil-moisture sensors exist in the commercial market but they are beyond the reach of individual farmers in the developing countries where water resources are scarce and power is unreliable and expensive. This talk, after presenting the essential information about the benefits of soil-moisture sensors, focuses on three concepts where power is not required. A prototype based on one of the concepts will be discussed in detail. This will be followed by a discussion of  a concept that is amenable for miniature soil-moisture sensors. It uses the dual-probe heat-pulse (DPHP) technique comprising a heater and temperature sensor. Its macro-scale cost-effective prototype will be presented in detail. Electronic integration, testing, and calibration will also be discussed. As this sensor has integrate wireless transceiver, it is amenable for using in a network for estimating the soil conditions in high-value crops. A discussion of the ongoing work on miniature prototype will conclude the talk.

[Work done with Nikhil Jorapur, Mukund Madhava Nath, and Ami Sampat at the Indian Institute of Science; and in part, in collaboration with the research groups of Dr. Maryam Bhagini and Prof. Devendra Singh at IIT-Bombay.]

Naturally-occurring Nano-clays in Indian soils: their Role in Plant Nutrient Management

Dr. K Karthikeyan


National Bureau of Soil Survey and Land Use Planning, Maharashtra


Dr. K.KARTHIKEYAN obtained his Ph.D in Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry from Indian Agricultural Research Institute, New Delhi.  He joined in the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR).  He is currently working as Scientist (Soil Science) at National Bureau of Soil survey and Land Use Planning, Nagpur.  His current research interest includes Soil Chemistry/Fertility and Soil Survey and Mapping.

Soils contain many kind of inorganic particles with atleast one dimension in the nanoscale or colloidal range (<100nm).  Apparently, only a small proportion of nanoparticles in soil occur as discrete entities.  Organic colloids in soils for example are largely associated with their inorganic counterparts or form coatings over mineral surfaces.  For this reason, individual nanoparticles are difficult to separate and collect from the bulk soil, and extraction yields are generally low.  Because of their large surface area and the presence of surface defects and dislocations, nanoparticles in soil are very reactive towards external solute molecules.  Nanoparticles surface properties can deviate markedly from those shown by their macroscopic (bulk) counterparts.  Mineral solubility is expected to increase steeply as particle size decrease below ~10nm.  Soils contain an abundance of nano-size particles.  Because of their tendency to aggregate and associate with organic colloids.  It is suggested that nano particles, with their large surface-volume ratio, could be highly effective in carbon sequestration.  Nano particles represent the most important adsorbents in soil they may control transport of nutrients and pollutants, regulate organic matter fixation or catalyse precipitation of new mineral phases.  The nano scale constituents in-situ in intact soil structures is of fundamental interest in the future.  Many functional nano-particles have been synthesized as candidates for environment application. Synthetic nano-materials, especially those with a narrow size distribution, can be expensive and difficult to obtain.  So, much effort is being directed towards naturally occurring nano-clays in eco-system soils/sediments and used to the same system for increased input use efficiency.

Soil microbes’ especially bacterial system plays an important role in the formation of
mineral nanoparticles, including layer silicates in soil. If we look soil nano-particles
from bacterial growth point of view, the trivalent iron bound in nano-clay minerals in soil
can be an important electron accepter supporting the growth of bacteria in natural
environments. Similarly other bound ions acts as nutrients for bacterial growth. As
rhizosphere microorganisms play a very important role in maintaining soil health, ecosystem
functions and crop production; increasing of soil natural nano-minerals/particles improves
the bacterial growth and activities in addition to nutrient adsorption and cation exchange
capacity in soil. Soil nanoparticles immobilizes the Rhizosphere and rhizobacterial enzymes,
which improves (catalytic efficiency and substrate affinity of enzymes) the mineralization
of nutrients (especially organic N & P), solubilization and mobilization of the nutrients
between the rhizosphere-plant systems.


Nanotechnology for Agriculture and Food Systems

Dr. K Narsaiah


Central Institute of Post-Harvest Engineering and Technology, Ludhiana, Punjab


Dr. Kairam Narsaiah is a Principal Scientist  at the  at CIPHET.  He holds a PhD degree in Biochemical Engineering and Biotechnology from IIT Delhi.  He is a Fellow of  Society for Applied Biotechnology.  He has received Commendation Medal of Indian Society of Agri. Engineers, Research Team Award  of ISAE,  Distinguished Service Certificate of ISAE,  and Best poster awards at IIT Delhi, NDRI Karnal, GBPUAT, Pantnagar.  His areas of expertise include Membrane processing and microencapsulation for bioprocessing and design of meat processing equipment, Intellectual Property management.  He has published over 33 papers, three books and three other book chapters.  He also holds five patents. 

The rapid developments in nanosciences are becoming fountainheads of many applications in multiple sectors including agriculture and food industry. Nanotechnology promises to offer smarter, stronger and effective packaging materials, antimicrobials with enhanced potency and sensors/biosensors for detection of hazards in foods with greater sensitivity. Development of  NEMS/MEMS based  sensors and biosensors (for e.g. electrochemical impedance)  for the detection of food pathogens, toxins, and other food adulterants  and microfluidic platforms of sensors and biosensors for analysis of multiple quality parameters  will pave way for food safety and quality assurance. Integration of RFID with sensors for centralized continuous monitoring of parameters (temperature, humidity, gas composition) will improve the efficiency of supply chain management perishables as well as in agriculture production system such as animal shelters and poly houses for raising crops. Functionalized nanoparticles could be used to bind and remove toxins and pathogens in animal feeds.

Nanoremediation of Priority Chemical and Microbial Pollutants

Dr. KK Krishnani


National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management, Pune, Maharashtra


Dr. Kishore Kumar Krishnani is a Principal Scientist and Head at the School of Edaphic Stress Management , National Institute of Abiotic Stress Management(Deemed University).  He holds a PhD degree in Environmental Organic Chemistry “Hydrolysis mechanism and protonation behaviour of catalysis of carcinogenic hydroxamic acids”. He has published over 50 Full length papers in refereed journals, 11 Book chapters and authored/edited two books. In addition he has developed ten Manuals and teaching aids and holds eight Patents.   He hasreceived several awards including Endeavour Award-2012 for Endeavour Research Fellowship (Australian Government);  Biotechnology Overseas Associateship 2002-2003 by DBT, Govt. of India; TCTP-JICA (Third Country Training Programme-Japan International Cooperation Agency) fellowship by JICA, Japan; NAIP-HRD fellowship by ICAR, Ministry of Agriculture, Govt. of India; and the Young Scientist Award by 7th Indian Fisheries Forum at Bangalore in 2005.

Given the immense risk posed by widespread environmental pollution by recalcitrant contaminants, novel methods of decontamination and clean-up are required. Owing to the relatively high cost and the non-specificity, existing conventional technologies are not effective to clean up contaminated environment. Microbial bioremediation is widely used for pollutant clean-up, however, nanoparticles have more advancement than microorganisms. Now a days application of nanotechnolopgy and nanoparticles have become boon and an effective and economically viable alternative in decontamination and solving environmental problem. Nanobioremediation  has a potential not only to reduce the overall costs of large scale cleaning up and time. Nanostructured materials provide a reducing environment that enables the breakdown of contaminants into into more benign simpler substances, which are further used by the microorganisms. This paper explains advancement of nanoremediation and the use of nanomaterials for chemical and microbial pollutants showing potential to speed soil and groundwater cleanup. This could impact disease and environmental management in agriculture and aquaculture. It also provides an overview of current practices; research findings; societal issues; potential environment, health, and safety implications; and possible future directions for nanoremediation.

Bio-functionalized Nanoprobes: ‘Taming the Pesticide Dragon’

Dr. Priyanka


Institute of Nano Science and Technology, Mohali, Punjab


Dr Priyanka is a Scientist at Institute of Nanoscience and Technology, Mohali.  She obtained a PhD fromInstitute of Microbial Technology, Chandigarh (affiliated to Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi), INDIA.  She has received several awards including 1) MIT Media Lab Fellow 2013 CSIR-Nehru PDF Fellowship 2013 Google INK Research Fellowship 2013; Sole woman MIT TR35 young innovator, 2012 and was placed among top innovators under the DST - Lockheed Martin India Innovation Growth Programme 2012.  She has published over 18 papers and book chapter and a book.  She also holds a patent. 

Progress and development in new generation of diagnostics focus mainly upon the advances in the nanomaterials, particularly bio-functionalized nanocomposites that promise ultra-sensitive detection systems. Configured as a highly responsive biosensing platforms, the various nanocomposite on electrode surface exhibits electrical and chemical synergies1 of the nano-hybrid functional construct by combining good electronic properties and the facile chemical functionality for compatible bio-interface development. Here, we discuss how bio-nanocomposite materials can be integrated in diagnostic platforms for the detection of pesticides and toxins in real environmental samples.1 The developed Plastic Biochip based Electrochemical Sensor enables for the first time the use of highly electro-active electrochemical gold substrate to be used commercially in a single use disposable format at a very low cost (~Rs 5). The sensitivity and response of the  immunosensor is being enhanced by the use of electrochemically deposited Prussian blue embedded Au and Au/Fe nano films, CNTs, Graphene oxide (GO) and GO/CNT nanocomposites.2,5 The developed sensing platforms exhibited excellent sensitivity and specificity, with a good dynamic response range over repeated experiments. The study presented first time a low cost technique for rapid screening of pesticides contaminants in environmental samples and provides insight into development of a rapid and high-throughput screening of environment pollutants at very low cost.

Application of Nanotechnology in Enhancing Quality of Agricultural Produce

Dr. Sharanagouda Hiregoudar


University of Agricultural Sciences, Raichur, Karnataka


Dr. Sharanagouda Hiregoudar did his Ph. D. in the year 2004 and Post Doctoral in Canada. He is Assistant Professor  and Principal Investigator for Nanotechnology Project.

Dr. Sharanagouda Hiregoudar has significantly contributed in the field of Agricultural Engineering. He has worked on post harvest technology, drying and dehydration, value addition, food processing etc. He did research on mathematical model development for assessment of post harvest grain losses, pigeon pea processing, fish processing, waste utilization, storage and packaging studies, application of nanotechnology in agriculture and many other aspects of processing and food engineering.

Dr. Hiregoudar received many prestigious awards. To site a few Fast Track Young Scientist for the year 2005 by Dept. of Science and Technology, Govt. of India. He has published more than 97 research articles in reputed National and International journals. He has written two books and handled nine research projects financed by NAIP, ICAR, MoFPI, DST, RKVY etc. He has successfully guided 01 research students for Ph.D, degree, 01 for M. Phil. degree., 08 for M.Tech. degree and 15 for B.Tech. degree programme. He was a member for advisory more than 40 students. Recently, he has established state of art fruits and vegetable processing pilot plant, nanotechnology laboratory and alove vera processing unit.

In recent years, consumers and the agri-food industry have shown a growing interest in agriculture or foods not only for their nutritive properties but also for their health related benefits. Food is depending factor in agriculture by using the quality inputs; the output in agriculture can be enhanced. This quality input usage can be accomplished by use of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is upcoming technology that has opened up with new avenues and more dimensions in different sectors. Malathian Nano particle at the dose of 0.004 % was sprayed using the electrostatic spinning against the 1% of malathian for four grain to control the insect and pests. It was revealed that after 90 days of storage pests viz., Rice – rice weevil, Sorghum – sorghum weevil, Redgram – bruchids, ground nut – seed beetle were not effective to control and more studies are underway to determine the doses of the nano - malathion to control these pests. Nutrient accumulation and toxicity testing of nanoparticles in Spinach (Palak) were conducted with an aim to understand the enrichment of nutrition to human diet through nanoparticles in Spinach (Palak). In the study zinc and ferrous nanoparticles were sprayed at the doses of 0, 10, 500 and 1000 ppm every two days. It was observed that the increased accumulation of Iron but not zinc. The highest accumulation was at 500ppm of zinc. Increased protein, fat and fiber content were evident at 500 and 1000ppm of zinc but it was low at Iron sprayed samples. Hence our study concludes that the Zinc spray of nanoparticle is very essential to increase the vegetarian protein, quality fat and fiber in the Indian vegetarian diet. The studies are underway in developing and testing particles for protecting crops from powdery mildews and testing for genotoxicity of nanomaterials.

Work with Kisan .B. Jadhav, Ramachandra C T, Sreenivas A G, Udaykumar Nidoni, Promodgouda, Shruthi Ngarhal, Malathi V and I.Shankergoud

Implications of Nanotechnology in Soil Science and Plant Nutrition

Dr. Tapan Adhikari 


Indian Institute of Soil Science, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh


Dr Tapan Adhikari is a Principal Scientist at the Indian Institute of Soil Science.  He has a Ph. D. degree in Soil Science and Agricultural Chemistry from Agricultural Research Institute (IARI), New Delhi.  He is awarded National Academy of Agricultural Sciences-Associate  (2007-2011), New Delhi, India; Golden Jubilee Commemoration Young Scientist Award (2004), Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi; FIRST Chaudhary Devi lal  Outstanding AICRP- Award  (2001),  ICAR, New Delhi; Jawahar Lal Nehru Award (1998), Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi; S. S. Ranade Memorial Award (1997), S. S. Ranade Memorial Trust, Pune; S. P. Roychoudhury Gold  Medal (1997), Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi; Shambhu Nandi  Gold Medal  Award (1992), Bidhan Chandra Krishi Viswa Vidyalaya,  Mohanpur, West Bengal; and Zonal Award (East Zone) (1992), Indian Society of Soil Science, New Delhi.

Nanotechnology, which deals with understanding and control of matter at dimension of roughly 100 nm and below, has a cross sectoral application and an interdisciplinary orientation. At this scale, the physical, chemical and biological properties of materials differ from the properties of individual atoms and molecules or bulk matter, which enable novel applications. Nanotechnology research and development is directed towards understanding and creating improved materials, devices and systems and exploit these properties as they are discovered and characterized. Nanotechnology has not left agriculture untouched and  promises to revolutionize the agriculture sector with new tools for molecular treatment of plant diseases, rapid detection of diseases, enhancing the ability of plant to absorb nutrients thus increasing soil fertility and crop production. In this context, nanotechnology in soil science sector has to be introduced which is likely to bring a sea change in agricultural production and productivity. Nanotechnology development in India is at a nascent stage with policy initiatives directed towards promoting research and development.    The most common natural nanoparticles are soil colloids, which are constituted of silicate clay minerals, iron-or aluminum oxides / - hydroxides or humic organic matter, including black carbon. Incidental nanoparticles are largely either of anthropogenic (from grinding of primary or secondary minerals, wear of metal or mineral surfaces, combustion) or pyrogenic (smoke from volcanoes or fires) origin. Engineered nanoparticles (ENPs) are particles that are produced by man because of specific nanotechnological properties. A large number of nanoparticles (NP) are present in the soil environment and understanding the behavior of nano-particles is very important to a wide variety of soil processes pertaining to plant nutrition and soil reclamation. The field of nano-science is gradually emerging out as a frontier area of research; because many of the natural components of soil are nano-particulates.  Moreover, increasing number of engineered NPs produced by nanotechnology industries find their way into soils environment. Therefore soil colloids should be viewed as an essential building block of the abiotic medium supporting life in general. During the process of weathering of silicates, oxides and other minerals, a number of NPs such as amorphous silica, hydrous aluminosilicates such as allophane, clays such as halloysite, and oxides such as magnetite and hematite, are produced in soil but their precise function and effects are still poorly defined and understood. Soil health maintenance is a key issue in sustaining crop productivity due to the fact that major portion of nutrient ions gets fixed in the broken edges of the clay particles and thus availability of nutrients become deficient. Nanotechnology can change the scenario, nano particles can adsorb on to the clay lattice thereby preventing fixation while releasing nutrients into the solution that can be utilized by plants. This process improves soil health and nutrient use efficiency by crops. Nanotechnology can be used to develop simple gadgets to assess available nutrient status of soil that will pave way for précised delivery of nutrient input in agro-ecosystem. Nano-particles are mini laboratories having the potential to precisely monitor temporal and seasonal changes in the soil system. Nano-sensors detect the availability of nutrients and water precisely which is very much essential to achieve the mission of precision agriculture.


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