Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Engineering Management


Department of Systems Engineering and Management

First Advisor

Charles A. Bleckmann, PhD


Microbial contamination in aviation fuel arises due to the impracticality of keeping fuel tanks sterile and the inevitable presence of water from condensation. Microbial contaminants in aviation fuels are a concern because of their potential to degrade the fuel, accelerate corrosion within the fuel tank, and threaten flight safety. This research aids in mitigating those problems by comprehensively characterizing the microbial communities affecting aviation fuels. Advances in molecular biological techniques have allowed for the identification of microorganisms which were not identified by the traditional culture-based methodologies used in previous studies. This study employed a molecular method known as 16S rDNA gene analysis to describe the microbial communities in aviation fuel. The microbial communities in JP-8, Jet A, and biodiesel were evaluated at the phylum and genus levels of taxonomy. The JP-8 community was found to be much richer than both the Jet A and biodiesel community. The biodiesel community was found to be a subset of the JP-8 community. A small subset of microorganisms was found to exist across all three fuels while the majority of identified microorganisms were endemic to a single fuel type. Rarefaction analysis showed that further sampling is likely to reveal additional diversity.

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