Research

Ingo Ensminger is a plant physiologist with a broad and interdisciplinary interest in the molecular, cellular and physiological mechanisms underlying adaptation and acclimation of plants to their environment. Research focus in the Ensminger lab is on the mechanisms by which environmental change impacts trees and forests from molecular to species and ecosystem level. The understanding of these mechanisms is not simply of scientific interest. It addresses some of the fundamental questions in global change research and is indispensable to justify of how plants will respond to climate change.

Recent research in the Ensminger lab has been integrating molecular and physiological acclimation of photosynthesis and carbon metabolism in trees and particularly in boreal conifers to abiotic stress. For Canada the response of conifer forests to climate change is an important ecological and economic issue, as it holds 25% of the world’s boreal conifer forests. It is proposed that climate change might increase e.g. the carbon sink of conifer forests. However, some of these forests might also be negatively affected by increased land surface air temperatures. This is due to e.g. the disruption of regulatory processes or water stress and hence an incomplete exploitation of the increased length of the growing season. Changes in growth and productivity of these ecosystems will directly affect e.g. their economic value, their ability to sequester carbon as well as sustainable management practice or biofuel production.