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Ganoderma lucidum

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Fungi
Phylum: Basidiomycota
Class: Agaricomycetes
Order: Polyporales
Family: Ganodermataceae
Genus: Ganoderma
Species: G. lucidum
Binomial name
Ganoderma lucidum
(Curtis) P. Karst
Template:MycomorphboxHow to create a mycomorphbox
Mycological characteristics for
Ganoderma lucidum
pores on hymenium

cap is offset or indistinct


hymenium attachment is irregular or not applicable


stipe is bare or lacks a stipe


spore print is brown


ecology is saprotrophic or parasitic


edibility: edible

Língzhī (traditional Chinese: 靈芝; simplified Chinese: 灵芝; Japanese: reishi; Korean: yeongji, hangul: 영지) is the name for one form of the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum, and its close relative Ganoderma tsugae, which grows in the northern Eastern Hemlock forests. These two species of bracket fungus have a worldwide distribution in both tropical and temperate geographical regions, including North and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia, growing as a parasite or saprotroph on a wide variety of trees.[1] Ganoderma lucidum enjoys special veneration in Asia, where it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a herbal medicine for more than 4,000 years, making it one of the oldest mushrooms known to have been used in medicine. Similar species of Ganoderma have been found growing in the Amazon. [2]

The word lingzhi, in Chinese, means "herb of spiritual potency" and has also been described as "mushroom of immortality".[1] Because of its presumed health benefits and apparent absence of side-effects, it has attained a reputation in the East as the ultimate herbal substance. Lingzhi has now been added to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia and Therapeutic Compendium.


[edit] Taxonomy and naming

The name Ganoderma is derived from the Greek ganos/γανος "brightness, sheen", hence "shining" and derma/δερμα "skin",[3] while the specific epithet lucidum in Latin for "shining" and tsugae refers to being of the Hemlock (Tsuga). Another Japanese name is mannentake, meaning "10 000 year mushroom".

There are multiple species of lingzhi, scientifically known to be within the Ganoderma lucidum species complex and mycologists are still researching the differences between species within this complex of species.[4]

[edit] Description

Lingzhi is a polypore mushroom that is soft (when fresh), corky, and flat, with a conspicuous red-varnished, kidney-shaped cap and, depending on specimen age, white to dull brown pores underneath.[1] It lacks gills on its underside and releases its spores through fine pores, leading to its morphological classification as a polypore.

[edit] Varieties

Ganoderma lucidum generally occurs in two growth forms, one, found in North America, is sessile and rather large with only a small or no stalk, while the other is smaller and has a long, narrow stalk, and is found mainly in the tropics. However, many growth forms exist that are intermediate to the two types, or even exhibit very unusual morphologies,[1] raising the possibility that they are separate species. Environmental conditions also play a substantial role in the different morphological characteristics lingzhi can exhibit. For example, elevated carbon dioxide levels result in stem elongation in lingzhi. Other forms show "antlers', without a cap and these may be affected by carbon dioxide levels as well.

According to The Chinese Herbal Materia Medica (本草綱目), lingzhi may be classified into six categories according to their shapes and colors, each of which is believed to nourish a different part of the body.

  1. Red - heart
  2. Purple - joints
  3. Green - liver
  4. White - lungs and skin
  5. Yellow - spleen
  6. Black - kidneys and brain

[edit] Biochemistry

Ganoderma lucidum is the only known source of a group of triterpenes, known as ganoderic acids, which have a molecular structure similar to steroid hormones. It is a source of biologically active polysaccharides with presumed medicinal properties, and it also contains:

Unlike many other mushrooms, which have up to 90% water content, fresh Lingzhi only contains about 75% water.

[edit] Habitat

In nature, Lingzhi grows at the base and stumps of deciduous trees, especially maple.[5] Only two or three out of 10,000 such aged trees will have Lingzhi growth, and therefore its wild form is generally rare. Today, Lingzhi is effectively cultivated both indoors under sterile conditions and outdoors on either logs or woodchip beds.

[edit] History

The Shen Nong's Herbal Classic, a 2000-year old medicinal Chinese book considered today as the oldest book on oriental herbal medicine, classifies 365 species of roots, grass, woods, furs, animals and stones into three categories of herbal medicine:

  • The first category, called "superior", includes herbs effective for multiple diseases and are mostly responsible for maintaining and restoring the body balance. They have almost no unfavorable side-effects.
  • The second category comprises tonics and boosters, for which their consumption must not be prolonged.
  • The third category must be taken, usually in small doses, and for the treatment of specific ailments only.

Lingzhi ranked number one of the superior medicines, and was therefore the most exalted medicine in ancient times.

[edit] Current usage

Lingzhi can be found in many Asian markets as well as Western health shops. Extracts of 'lingzhi,' which may also be called 'reishi' are also available. In general, a hot water extract is best at concentrating the polysaccharides in lingzhi and alcohol extracts are best at concentrating the triterpenoids in lingzhi, but an extract can also be made with a blend of both extracts.[citation needed]

[edit] Medicinal uses

Lingzhi may possess some anti-tumor, immunomodulatory and immunotherapeutic activities, supported by some studies on polysaccharides, terpenes, and other bioactive compounds isolated from fruiting bodies and mycelia of this fungus (reviewed by R. R. Paterson[6]).

A number of laboratory studies have shown anti-neoplastic effect of fungal extracts or isolated compounds against some types of cancer (44,55).

The mechanisms by which G. lucidum may affect cancer are unknown and may target different areas of cancer development: inhibition of angiogenesis (formation of arterial vessels within the tumour) mediated by cytokines, cytoxicity, inhibiting migration of the cancer cells and metastasis, and inducing and enhancing apoptosis of tumor cells (30-59).

Variation between preparations and potential negative side effects cannot be ruled out. G. lucidum extracts may be adaptogenic, anti-allergenic and anti-hypertensive due to the presence of triterpenes. Apart from these properties, lingzhi has been found to be anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-parasitic, anti-fungal, antidiabetic, anti-hypotensive, and protective of the liver.[citation needed] It has also been found to inhibit platelet aggregation, and to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar.[7][8][9]

Lingzhi may act as a blood pressure stabilizer, antioxidant, analgesic, a kidney and nerve tonic. It has been used in bronchitis prevention and in cardiovascular treatment, and in the treatment of high triglycerides, high blood pressure, hepatitis, allergies, chemotherapy support, HIV support, and fatigue and altitude sickness.[10][11][12]

Some peer-reviewed studies indicate that ganoderic acid has some protective effects against liver injury by viruses and other toxic agents in mice, suggesting a potential benefit of this compound in the treatment of liver diseases in humans.[13]

[edit] Preparation

Lingzhi is traditionally prepared by simmering in water. Thinly sliced or pulverized lingzhi (either fresh or dried) is added to a pot of boiling water, the water is then brought to a simmer, and the pot is covered; the lingzhi is then simmered for two hours.[citation needed] The resulting liquid should be fairly bitter in taste, with the more active red lingzhi more bitter than the black. The process may be repeated. Alternatively, it can be used as an ingredient in a formula decoction or used to make an extract (in liquid, capsule, or powder form). The more active red forms of lingzhi are far too bitter to be consumed in a soup, as long cooked shiitake mushrooms might be.

Because mushrooms contain chitin which locks up medicinal components,[citation needed] preparations of lingzhi are unlikely to be medicinally active, unless there has been a prolonged hot water extraction.[citation needed] Simply tincturing the mushroom in ethanol or powdering it and encapsulating it makes preparations that are essentially inert and may account for some of the inconsistency in research results. Additionally, mushrooms traditionally incorporate or transform constituents from their host trees and mycelial fractions grown in sawdust or other substrate may differ appreciably from the whole fungus.[citation needed]

[edit] Side effects

It has been shown in some studies that long term use of lingzhi can result in some mild side effects, including dryness of the nasal passages, mouth and throat, as well as stomach upset and nosebleed.[citation needed]

[edit] Modern scientific studies

Numerous studies of lingzhi, mainly in China,[14][15] Korea,[16] Japan[17] and the United States, have shown its effectiveness in the treatment of a very wide range of diseases and symptoms.[18] But the studies have not given any explanation of exactly how lingzhi has so many diverse effects, because none of the known active components taken alone have produced results as powerful as the intake of lingzhi itself, suggesting synergy is important. For example, reports of lingzhi's effect on stamina, appetite, and other human conditions are largely anecdotal and haven't been studied scientifically. It is perhaps more comprehensible at this time to explain lingzhi's "miraculous powers" from the traditional Chinese medicine point of view.

In the West, scientists have traditionally separated and classified each disease meticulously, and have specialized in each of them to such a degree that it seems as if each disease is autonomous and standing alone. Oriental medicine, resulting from knowledge accumulated through 4,000 years of human observation, asserts that health can be maintained by sustaining the proper balance within the body and that diseases can be cured by restoring this balance through nutrition, including medicinal herbs, exercise and mental peace. Traditional oriental medicine believes that a disease is but the mere tip of an iceberg, the result of the underlying imbalance of the body which must be restored.

Observations have shown that lingzhi generally has only slight side effects and can be consumed in high doses, in parallel with other medications. Its main properties are adaptogenic which mean that it is nontoxic, it works in a generalized manner on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the neuroendocrine system. Its actions are alterative, enhance the immune system and lessen nervous tension.[19] These properties are conducive to normalizing and balancing the body (homeostasis and allostasis), and as a result, lingzhi is able to help the body cure a multitude of disease states from within.

Lingzhi has been found to strengthen the respiratory system and to have a healing effect on the lungs, and is particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma, cough and other respiratory complaints. At least one population study conducted in the 1970s confirms this claim. When more than 2,000 Chinese with chronic bronchitis took lingzhi syrup, 60 to 90% felt better within two weeks and reported an improved appetite, according to an article entitled, Medicinal Mushrooms, written by Christopher Hobbs, and published in Herbs for Health, Jan/February 97.

In Japan, after daily injections in mice with cancer it was reported that tumors in 50% of the animals had completely regressed within 10 days. (Ikekawa et al,1968;Japanese Journal of Cancer Research; 59: 155-157) The host-dependent anti-tumor activity has been subsequently confirmed to be from the polysaccharide fractions of Ganoderma by Sasaki et al..[20] Multiple similar studies subsequently confirms this observation and anti-tumor efficacy of Ganoderma has been demonstrated from various species, at different stages of growth and using different solvents for extraction and different routes of administration. Anti-tumor activity has been demonstrated in vitro as well as in syngeneic tumor systems in animals. However, no human trials of Ganoderma against cancer in peer reviewed journals nor any controlled clinical trials in humans have yet been conducted or published.

There has been research showing lingzhi an effective supplement during chemotherapy or radiotherapy to reduce side-effects such as fatigue, loss of appetite, hair loss, bone marrow suppression and risk of infection. Ganodermas was shown effective against fatigue,[21] hair loss,[22] and bone marrow suppression.[23] There is similar clinical evidence for other glucan BRMs applied in the setting of cancer chemotherapy or radiotherapy[24] lending further support to the supplementation of Ganoderma in combination with cytotoxic cancer therapies. The recommended dose should be in the range of five to ten grams of fruiting body or equivalent per day.[25]

In an animal model, Ganoderma has been demonstrated to effectively prevent cancer metastasis,[26] and these results are comparable to those of Lentinan from shiitake mushrooms[27] While only anecdotal or clinical data exists indicating ganoderma supplementation may enhance survival of human cancer patients, this survival advantage has been demonstrated for a number of comparable glucan BRMs like lentinan. Lentinan use in advanced gastric cancer demonstrated a significant life span prolongation advantage at 1, 2, 3 and 4 years in a randomized control trial.[28] Lentinan is however injected. More appropriate for comparison to Ganoderma is perhaps PSK or PSP, which are orally administered. Mitomi et al.[29] found significantly improved survival and disease-free survival (P=0.013) in colorectal cancer given PSK supplementation over three years when compared to control in a multi-center randomized controlled trials.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d David Arora (1986). Mushrooms demystified, 2nd edition. Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-169-4. 
  2. ^ Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, & Culture (Herbs and Health Series)by Christopher Hobbs (Author), Harriet Beinfield
  3. ^ Liddell, Henry George and Robert Scott (1980). A Greek-English Lexicon (Abridged Edition). United Kingdom: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-910207-4. 
  4. ^ R. S. Hseu, H. H. Wang, H. F. Wang and J. M. Moncalvo (1996). "Differentiation and grouping of isolates of the Ganoderma lucidum complex by random amplified polymorphic DNA-PCR compared with grouping on the basis of internal transcribed spacer sequences" (Abstract). Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 62 (4): 1354–1363. PMID 8919797. 
  5. ^ (National Audubon Society; Field guide to Mushrooms,1993)
  6. ^ Paterson RR (2006). "Ganoderma - a therapeutic fungal biofactory". Phytochemistry 67: 1985–2001. doi:10.1002/chin.200650268. 
  7. ^ Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, & Culture (Herbs and Health Series)by Christopher Hobbs (Author), Harriet Beinfield
  8. ^ Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, and Andrew Gamble (2004)
  9. ^ David Winston and Steven Maimes Adaptogens 2007
  10. ^ Medicinal Mushrooms: An Exploration of Tradition, Healing, & Culture (Herbs and Health Series)by Christopher Hobbs (Author), Harriet Beinfield
  11. ^ Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, and Andrew Gamble (2004)
  12. ^ David Winston and Steven Maimes Adaptogens 2007
  13. ^ Li YQ, Wang SF (2006). "Anti-hepatitis B activities of ganoderic acid from Ganoderma lucidum". Biotechnol. Lett. 28: 837–841. doi:10.1007/s10529-006-9007-9. 
  14. ^ Gao Y, Gao H, Chan E, Tang W, Xu A, Yang H, Huang M, Lan J, Li X, Duan W, Xu C, Zhou S. Related Articles, Links Abstract Antitumor activity and underlying mechanisms of ganopoly, the refined polysaccharides extracted from Ganoderma lucidum, in mice. Immunol Invest. 2005;34(2):171-98
  15. ^ Cheng JJ, Zeng YS, Xiong Y, Zhang W, Chen SJ, Zhong ZQ. Division of Neuroscience, Department of Histology and Embryology, Zhongshan Medical College, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou Ganoderma spores may regulate the levels of mitochondria-related molecular substances in hippocampus of young rats birthed by rats with gestational hypertension.Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2007 May;5(3):322-7.
  16. ^ Stavinoha, W. (1993). Short term dietary supplementation with ganoderma lucidum slows development and growth of microadenomatous lesions in the colon of rats treated with the carcinogen 1,2 dimethylhydrazine. Presented at the 5th international symposium on ganoderma lucidum, Seoul, Korea on June 17, 1993.
  17. ^ Hijikata Y, Yasuhara A, Sahashi Y. Related Articles, Links Abstract Effect of an herbal formula containing Ganoderma lucidum on reduction of herpes [[zoster pain: a pilot clinical trial. Am J Chin Med. 2005;33(4):517-23. PMID: 16173526 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
  18. ^ Chinese Herbal Medicine: Materia Medica, Third Edition by Dan Bensky, Steven Clavey, Erich Stoger, and Andrew Gamble (2004)
  19. ^ David Winston and Stephen Maimes. Adaptogens 2007
  20. ^ Sasaki T, Arai Y, Ikekawa T, Chihara G, Fukuoka F.Antitumor polysaccharides from some polyporaceae, Ganoderma applanatum (Pers.) Pat and Phellinus linteus (Berk. et Curt) Aoshima.Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo). 1971 Apr;19(4):821-6. PMID: 5087927
  21. ^ Yang, QY and Wang, MM. (1995). The effect of ganoderma lucidum extract against fatigue and endurance in the absence of oxygen. In Proc. Contributed. Symposium. 59A, B.2. Role of Ganoderma Supplementation in Cancer Management
  22. ^ Miyamoto, T., Abe, T., Hasunuma, K. (1985). Japan Kokai Tokkyo Koho JP60, 199,80 [85,199.810] (CI. A61K7/06). Appl. 84/5,977. 24 March 1984.
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  24. ^ Shi, JH. (1993). PSP for the protection of the tumorous patients during chemotherapy. In 1993 PSP Intl Symposium, Yang QY and Kwok CY (eds.), Fudan U. Press, Shanghai, p.271-2
  25. ^ Chang, R. (1994). Effective dose of ganoderma in humans. In Proc. Contributed Symposium 59A, B. 5th Intl. Mycol. Congr., Buchanan PK, Hseu RS and Moncalvo JM (eds), Taipei, p. 101-13.
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  29. ^ Mitomi, T., Tsuchiya, S., Iijima, N., et al. (1992). Randomized control study on adjuvant immunochemotherapy with PSK in curatively resected colorectal cancer. Diseases of the Colon & Rectum. 35(2):123-30.

30- Stanley G, Harvey K, Slivova V, Jiang V and Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum supresess angiogenesis through the inhibition of secretion of VEGF and TGF-beta from prostate cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2005; 330:46-52

31- Cao QZ and Lin ZB. Antitumor and anti-angiogenic activity of Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides peptide. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2004; 25: 833-8

32- Jian J, Slivova V, Valachivocova T, Harvey K and Sulva D. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation and induces apoptosis in human prostate cancer cells PC-3. Int J Oncol 2004; 24:1093-9

33- Hu H, Ahn NS, Yang X, Lee YS and Kang KS. Ganoderma lucidum extract induce cell cycle arrest an apoptosis in MCF-7 human breast cancer cell. Int J Cancer 2002; 20:250-3

34- Hsu MJ, Lee SS and Lin WW. Polysaccharide purified from Ganoderma lucidum inhibits spontaneous and Fas-mediated apoptosis in human neutrophils trough activation of the phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase/akt signaling pathway. J Leukoc Biol 2002;72:207-16

35- Sliva D, Sedlak M, Slivova V, Valachovicova T, Lloyd FP Jr. and Ho Nw. Biologic activity spores and dried powder from Ganoderma lucidum for the inhibition of a highly invasive human breast and prostate cancer cells. J Altern Complement Med. 2003; 9:491-7

36- Lin ZB and Zhang HN. Anti-tumor and inmunoregulatory activities of Ganoderma lucidum and its possible mechanisms. Acta Pharmacol Sin 2004; 25:1387-95

37- Jiang J, Slivova V, Harvey K, Valachovivocova T and Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses growth of breast cancer cells trough the inhibition of Akt/NF-kappa signaling. Nutr cancer 2004; 49:209-16

38- Sliva D, Labarrere C, Slivova V, Sedlak M, Lloyd FP Jr. and Ho NW. Ganoderma lucidum suppresses motility of highly invasive breast and prostate cancer cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2002; 298:603-12

39- Kimura Y, Taniguchi M and Baba K. Antitumor and antimetastatic effects on liver of tripertenoid fractions of Ganoderma lucidum: mechanism of action and isolation on an active substance. Anticancer Res 2002; 22:3309

40- Lu QY, Sartippour MR, Brooks MN et als. Ganoderma lucidum spore extract inhibit endothelial and breast cancer cells in vitro. Oncol Rep 2004; 12:659-62

41- Jiang J, Slivova and Sliva D. Ganoderma lucidum inhibits proliferation of human breast cancer cells by down-regulation of strogen receptor and Akt/NF-kappa signaling. Int J Oncol 2006; 29: 695-703

42- Liu J, Shimuzu K, Konishi F et als. The antiandrogenic effect of ganoderol B isloted from the fruiting body of Ganoderma lucidum. Bioorg Med. Chem 2007; 15: 4966-72

43- Zaidman BZ, Wasser SP, Nevo E et als. Coprinus comatus and Ganoderma lucidum interfere with androgen receptor function in LNCaP prostate cancer cells. Mol Biol Rep 2008; 35: 107-117

44- Gao Y, Tang W, Dai X et. als. Effects of water – soluble Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides on the immune functions of patients with advanced lung cancer. J Med Fod 2005; 8: 159-169

45- Cao QZ, Lin ZB. Ganoderma lucidum polysaccharides peptide inhibits the grow of vascular endothelial cell and induction of VEGF in human lung cancer cell. Life Sci 2006; 78: 1457-1463

46- Tang W, Liu JW, Zao WM et als. Ganoderic acid T fro Ganoderma lucidum mycelia induces mithochondria mediated apoptosis in lung cancer cells. Life Sci. 2006; 80: 205-211

47- Yue QX, Xie FB, Guan SH et als. Interaction of Ganoderma triterpenes with doxorubicin and proteomic characterization of the possible molecular targets of ganoderma triterpenes. Cancer Sci 2008; 99:1461-70

48- Kim KC, Jun HJ, Kim JS et als. Enhancement of radiation response with combined Ganoderma lucidum and Duchesnea chrysanta extracts in human leukaemia HL-60 cells. Int J Mol Med. 2008; 21:489-98

49- Lu H, Uesaka T, Katoh O, Kyo E. et als. Prevention of paraneoplastic lesions, aberrant crypt foci, by a water-soluble extract from cultured medium of Ganoderma lucidum (Rhei-shi) mycelia in male F344 rats. Oncol Rep 2001; 8:1341-5

50- Lu H, Kyo E, Uesaka. et als. Prevention of development of N, N’ –dimethylhydralazine-induced colon tumors by a water-soluble extract from cultured medium of Ganoderma lucidum (Rhei-shi) mycelia in ICR mice. Int J Mol Med 2002; 9:113-7

51- Hong KJ, Dunn DM, Shen CL et als. Effects of Ganoderma lucidum an apoptotic and anti-inflammatory function in HT-29 human colonic carcinoma cells. Phytother Res 2004; 18:768-770

52- Xie JT, Wang CZ, Wicks S et als. Ganoderma lucidum extract inhibits proliferation of SW 480 human colorectal cancer cells.

53- Lin SB, Li CH, Lee SS et als. Triterpene-enriched extracts from ganoderma lucidum inhibit growth of hepatoma cellsvia suppressing protein kinase C, activating-mitogen-activated protein kinases and G2-phase cell cycle arrest. Life Sci 2003; 72:2381-90

54- Weng CJ, Chau CF, Hsieh YS et als. Lucidenic acid inhibits PMA induced invasion of human hepatoma cells through inactivating MAPK/ERK signal transduction pathway reducing binding activities of NF-kappaB and AP-1. Carcinogenesis 2008; 29:147-56

55- Cheuk W, Cahn JK, Nuovo G et als. Regression of gastric large B-Cell-lymphoma accompanied by a florid lymphoma –like T-cell reaction: immunomodulatory effect of Ganoderma lucidum (Lingzhi)? Int J Surg Pathol 2007; 15:180-6

56- Müller CI, Kumagai T, O’Kelly J. et als. Ganoderma lucidum causes apoptosis in leukaemia, lymphoma, and multiple myeloma cells. Leuk Res 2006; 30: 841-8

57- Hsu CL, Yu YS and Yen Lucidenic acid B induces apoptosis in human leukaemia cells via mitochondria-mediated pathway. J Agric Food Chem 2008;56:3973-80

58- Lu QY, Jin YS, Zhang Q et als. Ganoderma lucidum extracts inhibit growth and induce actin polymerization in bladder cancer cells in vitro. Cancer Lett. 2004; 216:9-20

59- Yuen JWm Gohel MD and Au DW. Telomerase –associated apoptotic events by mushroom ganoderma lucidum on premalignant human urothelial cells. Nutr Cancer 2008; 60:109-19

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