This review examines under what circumstances the rate of cell division among cells of the root meristem is known to vary. First, methods are compared that have been used to quantify cell division rate. These can be grouped as being either cytological, in which the rate of accumulation of cells in a particular phase of the cell cycle is determined based on some form of cytological labeling, or kinematic, in which the rate of cell accumulation is determined from the net movement of cells. Then, evidence is reviewed as to whether cell division rates vary between different tissues or cell types, between different positions in the root, or finally between different environments. The evidence is consistent with cells dividing at a constant rate, and well documented examples where cell division rate changes substantially are rare. The constancy of cell division rate contrasts with the number of dividing cells, which varies extensively, and implies that a major point for cell cycle control is governing the exit from the proliferative state at the basal boundary of the meristem.
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