Arbuscular mycorrhiza (AM) is a widespread symbiosis between roots of the majority of land plants and Glomeromycotina fungi. AM is important for ecosystem health and functioning as the fungi critically support plant performance by providing essential mineral nutrients, particularly the poorly accessible phosphate, in exchange for organic carbon. AM fungi colonize the inside of roots and this is promoted at low but inhibited at high plant phosphate status, while the mechanistic basis for this phosphate-dependence remained obscure. Here we demonstrate that a major transcriptional regulator of phosphate starvation responses in rice PHOSPHATE STARVATION RESPONSE 2 (PHR2) regulates AM. Root colonization of phr2 mutants is drastically reduced, and PHR2 is required for root colonization, mycorrhizal phosphate uptake, and yield increase in field soil. PHR2 promotes AM by targeting genes required for pre-contact signaling, root colonization, and AM function. Thus, this important symbiosis is directly wired to the PHR2-controlled plant phosphate starvation response.