Scientists from Tel Aviv University are working on a new bio-plastic derived from marine microorganisms in an attempt to reduce the environmental impact of biodegradable plastics. The new process does not rely on fertile soil and fresh water to grow the plant matter, which is in short supply in many parts of the world. This also puts demands on farming capacity that needs to be used to grow food crops. Researchers from Tel Aviv University have been developing a sea lettuce algae called Ulva lactuca to help create a new bio-material. It is cultivated in the sea, and then fed to single-celled Haloferax mediterranei microorganisms, which excrete a PHA bioplastic polymer. This can then be used to produce biodegradable plastics. Work is ongoing accessing alternative bacteria and algae to find combinations capable of producing bio-plastics with different functional properties. A research paper has been published in the Bioresource Technology journal.