• Here, we investigated the non-host-AM fungus interaction by analyzing transcriptional changes in Rhizophagus, Arabidopsis, and the host plant Medicago truncatula while growing in the same mycorrhizal network.• In early interaction stages, Rhizophagus activated the Arabidopsis strigolactone biosynthesis genes CCD7 and CCD8, suggesting that detection of AM fungi is not completely impaired. However, in colonized Arabidopsis roots, fungal nutrient transporter genes GintPT, GintAMT2, GintMST2 and GintMST4, essential for AM symbiosis, were not activated. RNA-seq transcriptome analysis pointed to activation of costly defenses in colonized Arabidopsis roots. Moreover, Rhizophagus colonization caused a 50% reduction in shoot biomass, but also led to enhanced systemic immunity against Botrytis cinerea.• This suggests that early signaling between AM fungi and Arabidopsis is not completely impaired and that incompatibility appears at later interaction stages. Moreover, Rhizophagus-mediated defenses coincide with reduced Arabidopsis growth, but also with systemic disease resistance, highlighting the multifunctional role of AM fungi in host and non-host interactions.