Sample size for detecting and estimating the proportion of transgenic plants with narrow confidence intervals

Osval Antonio Montesinos López, Abelardo Montesinos López, José Crossa, Kent Eskridge, Carlos Moises Hernández Suárez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Detecting the presence of genetically modified plants (adventitious presence of unwanted transgenic plants, AP) from outcrossing species such as maize requires a method that lowers laboratory costs without losing precision. Group testing is a procedure in which groups that contain several units (plants) are analysed without having to inspect individual plants, with the purpose of estimating the prevalence of AP in a population at a low cost without losing precision. When pool (group) testing is used to estimate the prevalence of AP (p), there are sampling procedures for calculating a confidence interval (CI); however, they usually do not ensure precision in the estimation of p. This research proposes a method to determine the number of pools (g), given a pool size (k), that ensures precision in the estimated proportion of AP (that is, it ensures a narrow CI). In addition, the study computes the maximum likelihood estimator of p under pool testing and its exact CI, considering the detection limit of the laboratory, d, and the concentration of AP per unit (c). The proposed sample procedure involves two steps: (1) obtain a sample size that guarantees that the mean width of the CI (w̄) is narrower than the desired width (ω); and (2) iteratively increase the sample size until w̄ is smaller than the desired width (ω) with a specified degree of certainty (γ). Simulated data were created and tables are presented showing the different possible scenarios that a researcher may encounter. An R program is given and explained that will reproduce the results and make it easy for the researcher to create other scenarios.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalSeed Science Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Adventitious presence of transgenic plants
  • Confidence interval
  • Confidence interval width
  • Pool sampling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Sample size for detecting and estimating the proportion of transgenic plants with narrow confidence intervals'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this