Ingo Ensminger

Associate Professor



CSB Appointment


Research Areas

Bioinformatics / Computational Biology, Biotechnology, Genetics / Genomics, Molecular Biology, Physiology, Plant Biology


Ph.D. University of Jena, Germany 2000
Diploma University of Giessen, Germany 1996

Primary Undergraduate Department

Biology, UTM

Graduate Programs

Cell & Systems Biology
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Genome Biology & Bioinformatics

Research Description

We investigate the physiological, biochemical and molecular mechanisms that contribute to acclimation and adaptation of photosynthesis, growth and resilience of trees to changing environmental conditions. Our goal is to further the understanding of tree acclimation and adaption. We also develop tools for forestry, horticulture and digital agriculture to address the challenges of global environmental change. Changing climate already impacts carbon sequestration and productivity of trees, and causes increased tree mortality, with large effects on species distribution and the global carbon cycle. However, we currently lack a detailed understanding of how future climate will affect the physiological and molecular responses of northern trees and forests. Our research not only reveals how trees cope with changing climate. We also develop innovative drone-based high-throughput phenotyping tools for monitoring and quantifying change. Beyond the value of these tools for basic research, they also provide opportunities for practical applications in the forestry sector. Using drone-based phenotyping tools, we can assess growth, fitness and health of trees in the field faster and more reliably than conventional approaches. High-throughput phenotyping accelerates the process of identifying, selecting and breeding trees that are better adapted to future climate. Our research helps to sustain ecologically and economically important tree species in a future climate with benefits to the environment and the Canadian forestry sector.

Contact Information

Office Phone: 905-569-4599
Office: DV3050
Lab: DV4033
Lab Phone: 905-569-4235

Mailing Address

Department of Biology
University of Toronto
3359 Mississauga Road
Mississauga, ON L5L 1C6

Visit lab’s website


Ensminger I, Chang CYY, Bräutigam K (2015) Tree Responses to environmental cues. In Adam-Blondon A-F & Plomion C (Eds), Land Plants – Trees (pp. 229-263). ISBN: 9780123985484. Elsevier Ltd. (Request Author Copy)


Tracking the phenology of photosynthesis using carotenoid‐sensitive and near‐infrared reflectance vegetation indices in a temperate evergreen and mixed deciduous forest

Wong CY, D’Odorico P, Arain MA, Ensminger I
2020, New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.16479

Evidence for convergent sensing of multiple abiotic stresses in cyanobacteria

Ritter SP, Lewis AC, Vincent SL, Lo LL, Cunha APA, Chamot D, Ensminger I, Espie GS, Owttrim GW
2020, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - General Subjects, 10.1016/j.bbagen.2019.129462

A comparative gene co-expression analysis using self-organizing maps on two congener filmy ferns identifies specific desiccation tolerance mechanisms associated to their microhabitat preference

Ostria-Gallardo E, Larama G, Berríos G, Fallard A, Gutiérrez-Moraga A, Ensminger I, Bravo LA
2020, BMC Plant Biology, 10.1186/s12870-019-2182-3

High‐throughput drone‐based remote sensing reliably tracks phenology in thousands of conifer seedlings

D\'Odorico P, Besik A, Wong CYS, Isabel N, Ensminger I
2020, New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.16488

Variation in the phenology of photosynthesis among eastern white pine provenances in response to warming

Fréchette E, Chang CY, Ensminger I
2020, Global Change Biology, 10.1111/gcb.15150

Decoding Gene Networks Modules That Explain the Recovery of Hymenoglossum cruentum Cav. After Extreme Desiccation

Ostria-Gallardo E, Larama G, Berríos G, Fallard A, Gutiérrez-Moraga A, Ensminger I, Manque P, Bascuñán-Godoy L, Bravo LA
2020, Frontiers in Plant Science, 10.3389/fpls.2020.00574

Champions of winter survival: cold acclimation and molecular regulation of cold hardiness in evergreen conifers

Chang CY, Bräutigam K, Hüner NPA, Ensminger I
2020, New Phytologist, 10.1111/nph.16904

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Effects of elevated growth temperature and enhanced atmospheric vapour pressure deficit on needle and root terpenoid contents of two Douglas fir provenances

Duan Q, Kleiber A, Jansen K, Junker-Frohn LV, Kammerer B, Han G, Zimmer I, Rennenberg H, Schnitzler J, Ensminger I, Gessler A, Kreuzwieser J
2019, Environmental and Experimental Botany, 10.1016/j.envexpbot.2019.103819

Carotenoid based vegetation indices for accurate monitoring of the phenology of photosynthesis at the leaf-scale in deciduous and evergreen trees

Wong CY, D\'Odorico P, Bhathena Y, Arain MA, Ensminger I
2019, Remote Sensing of Environment, 10.1016/j.rse.2019.111407

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Foliar nitrogen metabolism of adult Douglas-fir trees is affected by soil water availability and varies little among provenances

Heinze B, Du B, Kreuzwieser J, Dannenmann M, Junker LV, Kleiber A, Hess M, Jansen K, Eiblmeier M, Gessler A, Kohnle U, Ensminger I, Rennenberg H, Wildhagen H
2018, PLOS ONE, 10.1371/journal.pone.0194684

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Variation in short-term and long-term responses of photosynthesis and isoprenoid-mediated photoprotection to soil water availability in four Douglas-fir provenances

Junker LV, Kleiber A, Jansen K, Wildhagen H, Hess M, Kayler Z, Kammerer B, Schnitzler J, Kreuzwieser J, Gessler A, Ensminger I
2017, Scientific Reports, 10.1038/srep40145

Drought effects on root and needle terpenoid content of a coastal and an interior Douglas fir provenance

Kleiber A, Duan Q, Jansen K, Verena Junker L, Kammerer B, Rennenberg H, Ensminger I, Gessler A, Kreuzwieser J
2017, Tree Physiology, 10.1093/treephys/tpx113

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Relationship between leaf optical properties, chlorophyll fluorescence and pigment changes in senescing Acer saccharum leaves.

Junker LV, Ensminger I
2016, Tree physiology, 36, 694-711, 26928514

Photoperiod and temperature constraints on the relationship between the photochemical reflectance index and the light use efficiency of photosynthesis in Pinus strobus.

Fréchette E, Chang CY, Ensminger I
2016, Tree physiology, 36, 311-24, 26846980

Assessing the relationship between height growth and molecular genetic variation in Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) provenances

Neophytou C, Weisser A, Landwehr D, Šeho M, Kohnle U, Ensminger I, Wildhagen H
2016, European Journal of Forest Research, 10.1007/s10342-016-0946-y

Transcriptome responses to temperature, water availability and photoperiod are conserved among mature trees of two divergent Douglas-fir provenances from a coastal and an interior habitat

Hess M, Wildhagen H, Junker LV, Ensminger I
2016, BMC Genomics, 10.1186/s12864-016-3022-6

Fast detection of leaf pigments and isoprenoids for ecophysiological studies, plant phenotyping and validating remote-sensing of vegetation

Junker LV, Ensminger I
2016, Physiologia Plantarum, 10.1111/ppl.12512

A remotely sensed pigment index reveals photosynthetic phenology in evergreen conifers

Gamon JA, Huemmrich KF, Wong CYS, Ensminger I, Garrity S, Hollinger DY, Noormets A, Peñuelas J
2016, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 10.1073/pnas.1606162113

Coordination between growth, phenology and carbon storage in three coexisting deciduous tree species in a temperate forest

Klein T, Vitasse Y, Hoch G, Tognetti R
2016, Tree Physiology, 10.1093/treephys/tpw030

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Sensitivity of cold acclimation to elevated autumn temperature in field-grown Pinus strobus seedlings

Chang CY, Unda F, Zubilewich A, Mansfield SD, Ensminger I
2015, Frontiers in plant science, 6, 165, 25852717

A coastal and an interior Douglas fir provenance exhibit different metabolic strategies to deal with drought stress

Du B, Jansen K, Kleiber A, Eiblmeier M, Kammerer B, Ensminger I, Gessler A, Rennenberg H, Kreuzwieser J, Millard P
2015, Tree Physiology, 10.1093/treephys/tpv105

Zeaxanthin-independent energy quenching and alternative electron sinks cause a decoupling of the relationship between the photochemical reflectance index (PRI) and photosynthesis in an evergreen conifer during spring

Fréchette E, Wong CYS, Junker LV, Chang CY, Ensminger I
2015, Journal of Experimental Botany, 10.1093/jxb/erv427

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Douglas-fir seedlings exhibit metabolic responses to increased temperature and atmospheric drought

Jansen K, Du B, Kayler Z, Siegwolf R, Ensminger I, Rennenberg H, Kammerer B, Jaeger C, Schaub M, Kreuzwieser J, Gessler A
2014, PloS one, 9, e114165, 25436455

Elevated temperature differently affects foliar nitrogen partitioning in seedlings of diverse Douglas fir provenances

Du B, Jansen K, Junker LV, Eiblmeier M, Kreuzwieser J, Gessler A, Ensminger I, Rennenberg H
2014, Tree physiology, 34, 1090-101, 25240727

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A catalogue of putative unique transcripts from Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii) based on 454 transcriptome sequencing of genetically diverse, drought stressed seedlings

Müller T, Ensminger I, Schmid KJ
2012, BMC genomics, 13, 673, 23190494

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Will changes in root-zone temperature in boreal spring affect recovery of photosynthesis in Picea mariana and Populus tremuloides in a future climate?

Fréchette E, Ensminger I, Bergeron Y, Gessler A, Berninger F
2011, Tree physiology, 31, 1204-16, 22021010

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Over-expression of bacterial gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase (GSH1) in plastids affects photosynthesis, growth and sulphur metabolism in poplar (Populus tremula x Populus alba) dependent on the resulting gamma-glutamylcysteine and glutathione levels

Herschbach C, Rizzini L, Mult S, Hartmann T, Busch F, Peuke AD, Kopriva S, Ensminger I
2010, Plant, cell & environment, 33, 1138-51, 20199621

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Seasonal acclimation of photosystem II in Pinus sylvestris. II. Using the rate constants of sustained thermal energy dissipation and photochemistry to study the effect of the light environment

Porcar-Castell A, Juurola E, Ensminger I, Berninger F, Hari P, Nikinmaa E
2008, Tree physiology, 28, 1483-91, 18708330

Seasonal acclimation of photosystem II in Pinus sylvestris. I. Estimating the rate constants of sustained thermal energy dissipation and photochemistry

Porcar-Castell A, Juurola E, Nikinmaa E, Berninger F, Ensminger I, Hari P
2008, Tree physiology, 28, 1475-82, 18708329

Increased air temperature during simulated autumn conditions impairs photosynthetic electron transport between photosystem II and photosystem I

Busch F, Hüner NP, Ensminger I
2008, Plant physiology, 147, 402-14, 18375598

Soil temperature and intermittent frost modulate the rate of recovery of photosynthesis in Scots pine under simulated spring conditions

Ensminger I, Schmidt L, Lloyd J
2008, The New phytologist, 177, 428-42, 18181961

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Increased air temperature during simulated autumn conditions does not increase photosynthetic carbon gain but affects the dissipation of excess energy in seedlings of the evergreen conifer Jack pine

Busch F, Hüner NP, Ensminger I
2007, Plant physiology, 143, 1242-51, 17259287

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Excitation energy partitioning and quenching during cold acclimation in Scots pine

Sveshnikov D, Ensminger I, Ivanov AG, Campbell D, Lloyd J, Funk C, Hüner NP, Oquist G
2006, Tree physiology, 26, 325-36, 16356904

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Regeneration patterns in boreal Scots pine glades linked to cold-induced photoinhibition

Slot M, Wirth C, Schumacher J, Mohren GM, Shibistova O, Lloyd J, Ensminger I
2005, Tree physiology, 25, 1139-50, 15996957

Plasticity and acclimation to light reflected in temporal and spatial changes of small-scale macroalgal distribution in a stream

Ensminger I, Foerster J, Hagen C, Braune W
2005, Journal of experimental botany, 56, 2047-58, 15996986

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