Aims: The pseudo-cereal quinoa has an outstanding nutritional value. Seed germination is unusually fast, and plant tolerance to salt stress exceptionally high. Seemingly all seeds harbor bacterial endophytes. This work examines mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activities during early development. It evaluates possible contribution of endophytes to rapid germination and plant robustness. Methods: MAPK activities were monitored in water- and NaCl-imbibed seeds over a 4-h-period using an immunoblot-based approach. Cellulolytic and pectinolytic abilities of bacteria were assessed biochemically, and cellular movement, biofilm, elicitor and antimicrobial compound synthesis genes sequenced. GyrA-based, cultivation-independent studies provided first insight into endophyte diversity. Results: Quinoa seeds and seedlings exhibit remarkably complex and dynamic MAPK activity profiles. Depending on seed origin, variances exist in MAPK patterns and probably also in endophyte assemblages. Mucilage-degrading activities enable endophytes to colonize seed surfaces of a non-host species, chia, without apparent adverse effects. Conclusions: Owing to their motility, cell wall-loosening and elicitor-generating abilities, quinoa endophytes have the potential to drive cell expansion, move across cell walls, generate damage-associated molecular patterns and activate MAPKs in their host. Bacteria may thus facilitate rapid germination and confer a primed state directly upon seed rehydration. Transfer into non-native crops appears both desirable and feasible.