Interest in mineral–microbe interaction has grown enormously over recent decades, providing information in a puzzle-like manner which points towards an ever increasingly intimate relationship between the two; a relationship that can be truly termed co-evolution. Clay minerals play a very central role in this co-evolving system. Some 20 years ago, clay scientists looked at clay mineral–microbe studies as a peripheral interest only. Now, can clay scientists think that they understand the formation of clay minerals throughout geological history if they do not include life in their models? The answer is probably no, but we do not yet know the relative weight of biological and inorganic factors involved in driving clay-mineral formation and transformation. Similarly, microbiologists are missing out important information if they do not investigate the influence and modifications that minerals, particularly clay minerals, have on microbial activity and evolution. This review attempts to describe the several points relating clay minerals and microorganisms that have been discovered so far. The information obtained is still very incomplete and many opportunities exist for clay scientists to help to write the real history of the biosphere.

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