All photosynthetic multicellular Eukaryotes, including land plants and algae, have cells that are surrounded by a dynamic, complex, carbohydrate-rich cell wall. The cell wall exerts considerable biological and biomechanical control over individual cells and organisms, thus playing a key role in their environmental interactions. This has resulted in compositional variation that is dependent on developmental stage, cell type, and season. Further variation is evident that has a phylogenetic basis. Plants and algae have a complex phylogenetic history, including acquisition of genes responsible for carbohydrate synthesis and modification through a series of primary (leading to red algae, green algae, and land plants) and secondary (generating brown algae, diatoms, and dinoflagellates) endosymbiotic events. Therefore, organisms that have the shared features of photosynthesis and possession of a cell wall do not form a monophyletic group. Yet they contain some common wall components that can be explained increasingly by genetic and biochemical evidence.