Fatty acids in arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi are synthesized by the host plant.
Plants form beneficial associations with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi, which facilitate nutrient acquisition from the soil. In return, the fungi receive organic carbon from the plants. The transcription factor RAM1 (REQUIRED FOR ARBUSCULAR MYCORRHIZATION 1) is crucial for this symbiosis, and we demonstrate that it is required and sufficient for the induction of a lipid biosynthetic pathway that is expressed in plant cells accommodating fungal arbuscules. Lipids are transferred from the plant to mycorrhizal fungi, which are fatty acid auxotrophs, and this lipid export requires the glycerol-3-phosphate acyltransferase RAM2, a direct target of RAM1. Our work shows that in addition to sugars, lipids are a major source of organic carbon delivered to the fungus, and this is necessary for the production of fungal lipids.