The drivers and patterns of zoonotic virus emergence in the human population are poorly understood. The mosquito Aedes aegypti is a major arbovirus vector native to Africa that invaded most of the world’s tropical belt over the past four centuries, after the evolution of a “domestic” form that specialized in biting humans and breeding in water storage containers. Here, we show that human specialization and subsequent spread of A. aegypti out of Africa were accompanied by an increase in its intrinsic ability to acquire and transmit the emerging human pathogen Zika virus. Thus, the recent evolution and global expansion of A. aegypti promoted arbovirus emergence not solely through increased vector–host contact but also as a result of enhanced vector susceptibility.
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