It is now widely recognized that neutrophils are sophisticated cells that are critical to host defense and the maintenance of homeostasis. In addition, concepts such as neutrophil plasticity are helping to define the range of phenotypic profiles available to cells in this group and the physiological conditions that contribute to their differentiation. Herein, we discuss key features of the life of a teleost neutrophil including their development, migration to an inflammatory site, and contributions to pathogen killing and the control of acute inflammation. The potent anti-microbial mechanisms elicited by these cells in bony fish are a testament to their long-standing evolutionary contributions in host defense. In addition, recent insights into their active roles in the control of inflammation prior to induction of apoptosis highlight their importance to the maintenance of host integrity in these early vertebrates. Overall, our goal is to summarize recent progress in our understanding of this cell type in teleost fish, and to provide evolutionary context for the contributions of this hematopoietic lineage in host defense and an efficient return to homeostasis following injury or infection.
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