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Louise Comas

Research Plant Physiologist
Louise Comas Dr. Louise Comas
Plant Physiologist


Water Management Research Unit
2150 Centre Avenue, Bldg D, Suite 320
Fort Collins, CO 80526

PHONE: (970) 492-7416
FAX: (970) 492-7408


Research  Degrees  Publications

Research Statement:

Current research in my lab focuses on plant physiological responses to water limitations.  We investigate plant root traits & functioning, plant water use (via sap flow), gas exchange, canopy development, synchronization of root dynamics with aboveground growth, and plant interactions with soil communities & processes.  We work to improve basic mechanistic understand of plant functioning as well as applied understanding, like finding strategic ways to apply irrigation to maintain current crop yields while saving crop water use.  Ultimately the greatest increases to the productivity of cropping systems under limited water will be made through better crop genotypes, improved through a better understanding of plant functioning, and better soil management improved through understanding carbon and nitrogen processes in soil that improve crop productivity.


Ph.D. Plant Physiology, Ecology Minor 2001 Penn State University, University Park
B.S. Botany 1993 University of Wisconsin-Madison


Radville L, Bauerle TL, Marchetto KA, Comas LH, Lakso AN, Smart DR, Dunst R., Eissenstat DM. In review. Seasonal patterns of root production in grape.

Contador ML, Comas LH, Metcalf SG, Stewart WL, Gomez IP, Negron C, Lampinen BD. In press. Root growth dynamics linked to aboveground growth in walnuts Juglans regia L. Annals of Botany.

DeJonge KC, Taghvaeian S, Trout TJ, Comas LH. 2015. Comparison of canopy temperature-based water stress indices for maize. Agricultural Water Management 156:51-62.

Taghvaeian S, Comas LH, DeJonge KC, Trout TJ. 2014. Crop water stress index of deficit irrigated sunflower. Agricultural Water Management 144:69-80.

Cruz VMV, Comas LH, Dierig DA. 2014. Root phenotypic characterization of lesquerella genetic resources. Industrial Crops and Products 62:130-139.

Comas LH, Callahan HS, Midford PE. 2014. Patterns in root traits of woody species hosting arbuscular and ectomycorrhizas: implications for the evolution of belowground strategies. Ecology and Evolution 4:2979-2990.

Lee MH, Comas LH, Callahan HS. 2014. Experimentally reduced root-microbe interactions reveal limited plasticity in functional root traits in Acer and Quercus. Annals of Botany 113: 513-521

Comas LH,Becker SR, Cruz VMV, Byrne PF, Dierig DA. 2013. Root traits contributing to plant productivity under drought. Frontiers in Plant Science 4:442. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2013.00442.

Goslee SC, Veith TL, Skinner RH, Comas LH. 2013. Optimizing ecosystem function by manipulating pasture community composition. Basic and Applied Ecology 14: 630-641.

Comas LH, Mueller KE, Taylor LL, Midford PE, Callahan HS, Beerling DJ. 2012. Evolutionary patterns and biogeochemical significance of angiosperm root traits. International Journal of Plant Science 173: 584-595.

Comas LH, Goslee SC, Skinner RH, Sanderson MA. 2011. Quantifying species trait - function relationships for ecosystem management. Applied Vegetation Science 14: 583-595.

Comas LH. 2011. Quantifying fine root and leaf morphology (and seeds) from desktop scans. PrometheusWiki,

Comas LH, Patterson A, Carlisle B. 2011. Arbuscular mycorrhizal (AM) staining and quantification PrometheusWiki,

Skinner RH and Comas LH. 2010. Root distribution of temperate forage species subjected to water and nitrogen stress. Crop Science 50:2178-2185.

Comas LH, Bauerle TL, Eissenstat DM. 2010. Biological and environmental factors controlling root dynamics and function. Australian Journal of Grape and Wine Research 16:131-137.

Comas LH, Tuininga A, Callahan HS. 2010. Advancing our current understanding of plant-fungal symbioses: bridging scales from local to global. New Phytologist 185:871-873.

Parrent J, Peay K, Arnold EA, Comas LH, Avis P, Tuininga A. 2010. Moving from pattern to process in fungal symbioses: Linking functional traits, community ecology, and phylogenetics. New Phytologist 185:882-886.

Comas LH and Eissenstat DM. 2009. Patterns in root trait variation among 25 co-existing North American forest species. New Phytologist 182:919-928.

Edwards, KR, Comas LH. 2009. Evaluation of mechanical cutting to control littoral purple loosestrife stands. Journal of Aquatic Plant Management 47:158-161.

Eissenstat DM, Lakso AN, Neilsen D, Smart DR, Bauerle TL, Comas LH, Neilsen GH. 2006. Seasonal patterns of root growth in relation to shoot phenology in grape and apple In: Retamales JB, Lobos GA. Acta Horticulturae 721. Proceedings of the Fifth International Symposium on Mineral Nutrition of Fruit Plants, pp. 21-26.

Comas LH, Anderson LJ, Dunst RM, Lakso AN, Eissenstat DM. 2005. Canopy and environmental control of root dynamics in a long-term study of 'Concord' grape. New Phytologist 167:829-840.

Comas LH, Eissenstat DM. 2004. Linking fine root traits to maximum potential growth rate among eleven mature temperate tree species. Functional Ecology 18:388-397.

Comas LH, Skinner RH, Goslee SC. 2004. Using biodiversity to improve pastures. Lancaster Farming September 11, p E13.

Anderson LJ, Comas LH, Eissenstat DM, Lakso AN. 2003. Multiple risk factors in root survivorship: a four-year study in Concord grape. New Phytologist 158:489-501.

Lakso AN, Eissenstat DM, Comas LH , Dunst R. 2003. Effects of irrigation and pruning on Concord grape productivity and seasonal root development. International Water and Irrigation 23:32-34.

Comas LH, Bouma TJ, Eissenstat DM. 2002. Linking root traits to potential growth rate in six temperate tree species. Oecologia 132:34-43.

Comas LH, Eissenstat DM, Lakso AN. 2000. Assessing root death and root system dynamics in a study of grape canopy pruning. New Phytologist 147:171-178.