According the Convention on biological diversity (biodiversity), adopted in 1992 under the auspices of the United Nations , "biological diversity" refers to the “variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems”. Hence the term biodiversity encompasses the genetic, species and ecosystem diversity among living organisms.
In the agricultural sector, the set of plant, animal and microbial genetic resources that have an actual or potential value for food and agriculture is defined as "agrobiodiversity". This heritage, accumulated over time by the action of biological mechanisms and natural selection, has been preserved by generations of farmers and breeders. At international level, particular attention was paid to plant genetic resources related to food and agriculture through the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (adopted under the auspices of the FAO in 2004) which defines the rules for the germplasm exchange through a transfer agreement among the interested parties. At the national level, many Italian regions have also adopted laws for the protection and enhancement of biodiversity of agricultural and food interest.
The conservation of agricultural biodiversity is of fundamental importance for preserving biological diversity, since the decrease in variability and genetic diversity within biological systems leads to a loss of richness of local varieties, traditional knowledge and the landscape.
Agrobiodiversity can be preserved in situ, that is, in the natural environment in which the species live and have adapted, or ex situ, that is, in an environment beyond the natural one, such as germplasm banks and microbial banks.
Some institutes belonging to DiSBA hold important collections of biological material consisting of plants, animal cells and microorganisms. For the purposes of managing and enhancing this material, DiSBA, which participates in the activities of various European research infrastructures (MIRRI, ELIXIR, BBMRI ..), has launched the Biomemory project which aims at the collection, management, analysis and preservation of biological material and data.