Midi-chlorians: The Microbial Symbionts That Help Guide The Jedi
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Remember when Anakin was young and innocent? Before he took the deep dive into the dark side? This naive boy was learning about midichlorians from a Jedi master. This became the infamous moment when George Lucas redefined the Force.
I remember being frustrated with this sudden change. The Force was an energy that was all around us and now, in the 21st century, there’s a Jedi blood test! The Force was mythical, spiritual, and omnipresent, unmeasurable...until it wasn’t.
But let’s examine it a little closer and help lay to rest this Star Wars fan war. Midi-chlorians are stored in blood cells and are what is measured in the “Jedi blood test”.
Lucas has stated the average midi-chlorian count is about 2,500. However, Midi-chlorian count is not the same as one’s Force sensitivity. A typical Jedi has 4-6x the average Midi-chlorian count. Anikan and his son, Luke, have the greatest count in the universe, hence why we devote 9+ movies to their family.
Midi-Chlorians: The Essence At The Core Of The Jedi Microiome
In The Phantom Menace, Qui-Gon explains midi-chlorians to the future Darth Vader. He says “Without the midi-chlorians, life could not exist, and we would have no knowledge of the Force. They continually speak to us, telling us the will of the Force. When you learn to quiet your mind, you’ll hear them speaking to you.”
From this quote, we can gather that midi-chlorians are living microbes. They feed off the Force of the universe and symbiotically channel it to their host. Jedi are trained to perceive, interpret, and implement this language. And so the Force may still be an ‘energy field created by all living things’. It may ‘surround us and penetrate us’ and it ‘may bind the Galaxy together’.
But, we cannot hear this symbiotic microbe. It takes patience, training, understanding, and collaboration to use the Force as a Jedi. In the beginning of the Jedi philosophy, they may not have understood why some are Force-sensitive and others are blind to it.
Like many things, what we do not understand we can blame on faith, the air, the upbringing, or the bloodline. As time goes on, science explains our faiths in many ways without needing to replace them. As midi-chlorians, a symbiotic microbial community living within all living things, may interpret the omnipresent energy Force binding the galaxy together for those willing to listen.
We are surrounded by energy. Only recently have we learned to harness technology to help use that energy. We are surrounded by nutrients; yet, without our microbial brethren they can not be used by our bodies. Unfortunately, we are not full of midi-chlorians, and no Jedi or light sabers have been discovered...yet. However, midi-chlorians do exist in our world...well sort of.
There is a species of bacteria known as Midichloria mitochondrii which lives within the mitochondria of cells.
In the early days of life, mitochondria were once free-living microbes. One day, a mitochondria was ‘swallowed’ by another cell. The mitochondria did not die. Together they formed a symbiotic bond that forever changed evolution. This evolutionary moment allowed for the complex life we see today. It is often denoted as the ‘powerhouse’ of the cell, responsible for the production of the cell’s energy. These bean shaped cell structures are passed from mother to child.
Shmi Skywalker, the Virgin Mary of the Star Wars’ universe, brings a child into the world, passing down her own mitochondria and perhaps her midi-chlorians to her offspring, making him the powerhouse of the universe.
Midichloria mitochondrii have been found in humans, but only after a tick bites, so you may not want a high Midichloria count in this universe. These microbes have not been shown to be harmful to humans. In fact, they are being tested as a marker to help diagnose Lyme disease.
Thousands of microbes live in ticks, humans, and every other creature so far studied. These natural microbial inhabitants within an individual are known as the microbiome.
Now, before you go lysoling your whole body, remember these little guys are tapping into energy sources we cannot comprehend. They play a fundamental role in our nutrition, supplementing our diets, and prolonging our lives!
Now why might a microbe live inside a microbe living inside a cell? Truth is, scientists are not sure but there are always some theories. Microbes aren’t so different from us, they choose to live in a spot based on:
Proximity to resources
M. mitochondrii’s niche, the mitochondria, may protect the microbe from danger produced by the cell to kill pathogens. The mitochondria are also a great place to live, providing the perfect environment to comfort the microbes. Not to mention easy transmission for the next generation of the species, passing along from mother to child within the mitochondria.
Midichloria may communicate with the mitochondria, a Jedi mind trick so to speak, altering the behaviors of its host, and thus it’s hosts’ host, the tick, further protecting itself. Or It may also be communicating in a less manipulative way, in a bartering system, exchanging goods for the mutual benefit of both parties.
Whether it is this galaxy or the next, microbes play an important function in our understanding of the universe.
Other species named after the franchise
Happy Star Wars day and May the 4th be with you!
Looking for a nice cocktail to go with your Star Wars? Check out our Alderaan Wine recipe .